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J Biol Chem. 2000 Sep 15;275(37):28345-8.

Flavopiridol inhibits P-TEFb and blocks HIV-1 replication.

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  • 1Molecular Biology Program and the Department of Biochemistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


Flavopiridol (L86-8275, HMR1275) is a cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) inhibitor that is in clinical trials as a cancer treatment because of its antiproliferative properties. We found that the flavonoid potently inhibited transcription by RNA polymerase II in vitro by blocking the transition into productive elongation, a step controlled by P-TEFb. The ability of P-TEFb to phosphorylate the carboxyl-terminal domain of the large subunit of RNA polymerase II was inhibited by flavopiridol with a K(i) of 3 nm. Interestingly, the drug was not competitive with ATP. P-TEFb composed of Cdk9 and cyclin T1 is a required cellular cofactor for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) transactivator, Tat. Consistent with its ability to inhibit P-TEFb, flavopiridol blocked Tat transactivation of the viral promoter in vitro. Furthermore, flavopiridol blocked HIV-1 replication in both single-round and viral spread assays with an IC(50) of less than 10 nm.

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