Computational Studies Identifying Entry Inhibitor Scaffolds Targeting the Phe 43 Cavity of HIV-1 gp120

Authors

  • Cristina Tintori,

    1. Dipartimento Biotecnologie, Chimica e Farmacia, Università degli Studi di Siena, Via A. De Gasperi 2, 53100 Siena (Italy)
    Search for more papers by this author
    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Manikandan Selvaraj,

    1. Dipartimento Biotecnologie, Chimica e Farmacia, Università degli Studi di Siena, Via A. De Gasperi 2, 53100 Siena (Italy)
    Search for more papers by this author
    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Dr. Roger Badia,

    1. IrsiCaixa, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08916 Badalona (Spain)
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Dr. Bonaventura Clotet,

    1. IrsiCaixa, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08916 Badalona (Spain)
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Dr. José A. Esté,

    1. IrsiCaixa, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08916 Badalona (Spain)
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Prof. Maurizio Botta

    Corresponding author
    1. Dipartimento Biotecnologie, Chimica e Farmacia, Università degli Studi di Siena, Via A. De Gasperi 2, 53100 Siena (Italy)
    2. Biotechnology, College of Science and Technology, Temple University, Biolife Science Building, Suite 333, 1900 N 12th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122 (USA)
    • Dipartimento Biotecnologie, Chimica e Farmacia, Università degli Studi di Siena, Via A. De Gasperi 2, 53100 Siena (Italy)
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Targeting protein–protein interactions, such as the HIV-1 gp120—CD4 interface, has become a cutting-edge approach in the current drug discovery scenario. Many small molecules have been developed so far as inhibitors of the interaction between CD4 and HIV-1 gp120. However, due to a variety of reasons such as solubility, drug toxicity and drug resistance, these inhibitors have failed to prove clinically useful. As such, the identification of novel compounds that bind to protein–protein interactions is still a research area of considerable interest. Here, a structure-based virtual screening approach was successfully applied with the aim of identifying novel HIV-1 entry inhibitors targeting the Phe 43 pocket of HIV-1 gp120. Several compounds able to inhibit viral replication in cell culture were identified, with the best agent endowed with an EC50 value of 0.9 μM. Inactivity of all the identified hits toward a mutant (Met 475 Ile) strain strongly suggests that they interact in the Phe 43 cavity of gp120, as intended. Remarkably, all of these small molecules have a chemical scaffold unrelated to any known class of entry inhibitors reported thus far. Overall, our strategy led to the identification of four novel chemical scaffolds that inhibit HIV-1 replication through the destabilization of the HIV-1 gp120–CD4 interface.

Ancillary