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J Virol. 1995 Apr;69(4):2451-61.

Mode of action of SDZ NIM 811, a nonimmunosuppressive cyclosporin A analog with activity against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1: interference with HIV protein-cyclophilin A interactions.

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  • 1Sandoz Forschungsinstitut GmbH, Vienna, Austria.


Cyclosporins, in particular the nonimmunosuppressive derivative SDZ NIM 811, exhibit potent anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) activity in vitro. SDZ NIM 811 interferes at two stages of the viral replication cycle: (i) translocation of the preintegration complex to the nucleus and (ii) production of infectious virus particles. Immunosuppressive activity is not correlated with anti-HIV-1 activity of cyclosporins. However, binding to cyclophilin A, the major cellular receptor protein of cyclosporins, is a prerequisite for HIV inhibition: all structural changes of the cyclosporin A molecule leading to loss of affinity to cyclophilin abolished the antiviral effect. Cyclosporin derivatives did not interact directly with HIV-1 proteins; cyclophilin was the only detectable receptor protein for antivirally active cyclosporins. There is no evidence that inhibition of HIV occurs via a gain of function of cyclophilin in the presence of cyclosporins: the complex of cyclophilin A with SDZ NIM 811 does not bind to calcineurin or to any other viral or cellular proteins under conditions in which calcineurin binding to the cyclophilin A-cyclosporin A complex is easily detectable. Thus, the loss of function caused by binding of cyclosporins to cyclophilin seems to be sufficient for the anti-HIV effect. Cyclophilin A was demonstrated to bind to HIV-1 p24gag, and the formation of complexes was blocked by cyclosporins with 50% inhibitory concentrations of about 0.7 microM. HIV-2 and simian immunodeficiency virus are only weakly or not at all inhibited by cyclosporins. For gag-encoded proteins derived from HIV-1, HIV-2, or simian immunodeficiency virus particles, cyclophilin-binding capacity correlated with sensitivity of the viruses to inhibition by cyclosporins. Cyclophilin A also binds to HIV-1 proteins other than gag-encoded proteins, namely, p17gag, Nef, Vif, and gp120env; the biological significance of these interactions is questionable. We conclude that HIV-1 Gag-cyclophilin A interaction may be essential in HIV-1 replication, and interference with this interaction may be the molecular basis for the antiviral activity of cyclosporins.

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