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Current Pharmaceutical Design


ISSN (Print): 1381-6128
ISSN (Online): 1873-4286

High Throughput Screening and Characterization of HIV-1 Entry Inhibitors Targeting gp41: Theories and Techniques

Author(s): Shuwen Liu and Shibo Jiang

Volume 10, Issue 15, 2004

Page: [1827 - 1843] Pages: 17

DOI: 10.2174/1381612043384466

Price: $65


The gp41 subunit of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein plays an important role in HIV-1 entry and severs as an attractive target for development of HIV-1 entry inhibitors, a new class of anti-HIV drugs. Triggered by gp120 binding to CD4 and a coreceptor, gp41 undergoes a conformation shift from a native prefusogenic state to a fusogenic state, in which the N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR) and C-terminal heptad repeat (CHR) associate to form a six-helix bundle, representing the fusion-active gp41 core. Any compound that disrupts the gp41 sixhelix bundle formation may inhibit the gp41-mediated membrane fusion, thereby blocking HIV-1 entry into target cells. Peptides derived from the gp41 NHR and CHR regions, designated N- and C-peptides, can interact with the counterpart regions in gp41 and interfere with the six-helix bundle formation between the viral NHR and CHR region, thus inhibiting fusion of the virus with the target cell. One of the C-peptides, T-20 (brand name: Fuzeon), was recently approved by the US FDA as the first HIV entry inhibitor which can be used for treatment of AIDS patients who fail to respond to the current antiretroviral drugs, e.g., the reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors. The limitations of T-20 include lack of oral availability and high cost of production. Thus it is essential to develop small molecule HIV-1 entry inhibitors targeting gp41. This review summarizes the newly developed techniques for high throughput screening (HTS) and characterization of the HIV-1 entry inhibitors targeting gp41. The theories behind these techniques are also discussed. It is expected that the “drug-like” compounds with potent HIV-1 fusion inhibitory activity will be identified in the near future and used as leads for development of the low molecular weight HIV-1 entry inhibitors for the chemotherapy of HIV-1 infection and AIDS.

Keywords: hiv-1, cell-cell fusion, entry inhibitors, gp120, gp41, high-throughout screening, six-helix bundle, proteinprotein interaction, virus-cell fusion, virtual screening

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