5P12-linker-C37

Blocking HIV-1 cell entry has long been a major goal of anti-HIV drug development. Here, we report a successful design of two highly potent chimeric HIV entry inhibitors composed of one CCR5-targeting RANTES (regulated on activation normal T cell expressed and secreted) variant (5P12-RANTES or 5P14-RANTES (Gaertner, H., Cerini, F., Escola, J. M., Kuenzi, G., Melotti, A., Offord, R., Rossitto-Borlat, I., Nedellec, R., Salkow-itz, J., Gorochov, G., Mosier, D., and Hartley, O. (2008) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 105, 17706 –17711)) linked to a gp41 fusion inhibitor, C37. Chimeric inhibitors 5P12-linker-C37 and 5P14-linker-C37 showed extremely high antiviral potency in single cycle and replication-competent viral assays against R5-tropic viruses, with IC50 values as low as 0.004 nM. This inhi-bition was somewhat strain-dependent and was up to 100-fold better than the RANTES variant alone or in combination with unlinked C37. The chimeric inhibitors also fully retained the antiviral activity of C37 against X4-tropic viruses, and this inhi-bition can be further enhanced significantly if the target cell co-expresses CCR5 receptor. On human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, the inhibitors showed very strong inhibition against R5-tropic Ba-L strain and X4-tropic IIIB strain, with IC50 values as low as 0.015 and 0.44 nM, which are 45- and 16-fold better than the parent inhibitors, respectively. A clear delivery mechanism requiring a covalent linkage between the two segments of the chimera was observed and characterized. Furthermore, the two chimeric inhibitors are fully recombinant and are easily produced at low cost. These attributes make them excellent candidates for anti-HIV microbicides. The results of this study also suggest a potent approach for optimizing existing HIV entry inhibitors or designing new inhibitors.