, Volume 10, Issue 3-4, pp 269-286

Peptide nucleic acids as epigenetic inhibitors of HIV-1

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Abstract

The advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) was once perceived to havetransformed deadly HIV/AIDS into a treatable, chronic infectious disease. However, mountingevidence now suggests that the prevalence of multi-drug resistant HIV (MDR-HIV) infection issteadily rising among newly infected individuals in the HAART-experienced countries, raising aconcern for a future outbreak of MDR-HIV/AIDS. Our global fight against AIDS must include sustainedeffort to search and discover a new therapeutic modality for HIV infection. Of plausible viraltargets explored to date, HIV gene-targeting approach has not yet seen a considerable success invivo. The pursuit of anti-HIV gene intervention should include the identification of critical genetargets as well as the optimization of biomolecules that can effectively interact with theintended targets. Using unmodified peptide nucleic acids (PNA) as a biomolecular tool, we discovereda potentially critical HIV gene segment within gag-polencoding gene. Antisense PNA targetingthis specific region effectively disrupted a translation of HIV gag-polmRNA, abolishing thevirion production from chronically HIV-infected cells. This exemplifies the possibility that epigenic HIV inhibitors may be developed in the coming years, if emerging novel technologies permitsufficient and stable in vivo delivery of PNA or other similarly effective biomolecules.