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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011 Jan;55(1):264-75. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00376-10. Epub 2010 Oct 18.

Potent strategy to inhibit HIV-1 by binding both gp120 and gp41.

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Texas A&M University, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, College Station, Texas 77843-2128, USA.


The development of an anti-HIV microbicide is critical in the fight against the spread of HIV. It is shown here that the covalent linking of compounds that bind gp120 with compounds that bind gp41 can inhibit HIV entry even more potently than individual inhibitors or noncovalent combinations. The most striking example involves griffithsin, a potent HIV inhibitor that binds to the surface of HIV gp120. While griffithsin inhibits HIV Env-mediated fusion in a CCR5-tropic cell-cell fusion assay with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC(50)) of 1.31 ± 0.87 nM and the gp41-binding peptide C37 shows an IC(50) of 18.2 ± 7.6 nM, the covalently linked combination of griffithsin with C37 (Griff37) has an IC(50) of 0.15 ± 0.05 nM, exhibiting a potency 8.7-fold greater than that of griffithsin alone. Similarly, in CXCR4-tropic cell-cell fusion assays, Griff37 is 5.2-fold more potent than griffithsin alone. In viral assays, both griffithsin and Griff37 inhibit HIV replication at midpicomolar levels, but the linked compound Griff37 is severalfold more potent than griffithsin alone against both CCR5- and CXCR4-tropic virus strains. Another example of this strategy is the covalently linked combination of peptide C37 with a variant of the gp120-binding peptide CD4M33 (L. Martin et al., Nat. Biotechnol. 21:71-76, 2003). Also, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra for several of these compounds are shown, including, to our knowledge, the first published NMR spectrum for griffithsin.

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