Biased small-molecule ligands for selective inhibition of HIV-1 cell entry via CCR5

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Since the discovery of HIV's use of CCR5 as the primary coreceptor in fusion, the focus on developing small-molecule receptor antagonists for inhibition hereof has only resulted in one single drug, Maraviroc. We therefore investigated the possibility of using small-molecule CCR5 agonists as HIV-1 fusion inhibitors. A virus-free cell-based fusion reporter assay, based on mixing "effector cells" (expressing HIV Env and luciferase activator) with "target cells" (expressing CD4, CCR5 wild type or a selection of well-described mutations, and luciferase reporter), was used as fusion readout. Receptor expression was evaluated by ELISA and fluorescence microscopy. On CCR5 WT, Maraviroc and Aplaviroc inhibited fusion with high potencies (EC 50 values of 91 and 501 nM, respectively), whereas removal of key residues for both antagonists (Glu283Ala) or Maraviroc alone (Tyr251Ala) prevented fusion inhibition, establishing this assay as suitable for screening of HIV entry inhibitors. Both ligands inhibited HIV fusion on signaling-deficient CCR5 mutations (Tyr244Ala and Trp248Ala). Moreover, the steric hindrance CCR5 mutation (Gly286Phe) impaired fusion, presumably by a direct hindrance of gp120 interaction. Finally, the efficacy switch mutation (Leu203Phe) - converting small-molecule antagonists/inverse agonists to full agonists biased toward G-protein activation - uncovered that also small-molecule agonists can function as direct HIV-1 cell entry inhibitors. Importantly, no agonist-induced receptor internalization was observed for this mutation. Our studies of the pharmacodynamic requirements for HIV-1 fusion inhibitors highlight the possibility of future development of biased ligands with selective targeting of the HIV-CCR5 interaction without interfering with the normal functionality of CCR5.

TidsskriftPharmacology Research & Perspectives
Udgave nummer6
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2016

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