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FEBS Lett. 1998 Dec 28;441(3):419-26.

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Vif-derived peptides inhibit the viral protease and arrest virus production.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel.


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Vif protein is required for productive HIV-1 infection of peripheral blood lymphocytes and macrophages in cell culture and for pathogenesis in the SCID-hu mouse model of HIV-1 infection. Vif inhibits the viral protease (PR)-dependent autoprocessing of truncated HIV-1 Gag-Pol precursors expressed in bacterial cells and efficiently inhibits the PR-mediated hydrolysis of peptides in cell-free systems. The obstructive activity of Vif has been assigned to the 92 amino acids residing at its N'-terminus (N-Vif). To determine the minimal Vif sequence required to inhibit PR, we synthesized overlapping peptides derived from N-Vif. These peptides were then assessed, using two in vitro and two in vivo systems: (i) inhibition of purified PR, (ii) binding of PR, (iii) inhibition of the autoprocessing of the Gag-Pol polyprotein expressed by a vaccinia virus vector, and (iv) inhibition of mature virus production in human cells. The peptides derived from two regions of N-Vif encompassing residues Tyr-30-Val-65 and Asp-78-Val-98, inhibited PR activity in both the in vitro and the in vivo assays. Thus, these peptides can be used as lead compounds to design new PR inhibitors.

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