Small-molecule inhibition of HIV-1 Vif

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts 01605, USA.
Nature Biotechnology (Impact Factor: 39.08). 10/2008; 26(10):1187-92. DOI: 10.1038/nbt.1496
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The HIV-1 protein Vif, essential for in vivo viral replication, targets the human DNA-editing enzyme, APOBEC3G (A3G), which inhibits replication of retroviruses and hepatitis B virus. As Vif has no known cellular homologs, it is an attractive, yet unrealized, target for antiviral intervention. Although zinc chelation inhibits Vif and enhances viral sensitivity to A3G, this effect is unrelated to the interaction of Vif with A3G. We identify a small molecule, RN-18, that antagonizes Vif function and inhibits HIV-1 replication only in the presence of A3G. RN-18 increases cellular A3G levels in a Vif-dependent manner and increases A3G incorporation into virions without inhibiting general proteasome-mediated protein degradation. RN-18 enhances Vif degradation only in the presence of A3G, reduces viral infectivity by increasing A3G incorporation into virions and enhances cytidine deamination of the viral genome. These results demonstrate that the HIV-1 Vif-A3G axis is a valid target for developing small molecule-based new therapies for HIV infection or for enhancing innate immunity against viruses.

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    ABSTRACT: APOBEC3G (A3G) is an innate antiviral restriction factor that strongly inhibits the replication of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). An HIV-1 accessory protein, Vif, hijacks the host ubiquitin-proteasome system to execute A3G degradation. Identification of the host pathways that obstruct the action of Vif could provide a new strategy for blocking viral replication. We demonstrate here that the host protein ASK1 (apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1) interferes with the counteraction by Vif and revitalizes A3G-mediated viral restriction. ASK1 binds the BC-box of Vif, thereby disrupting the assembly of the Vif-ubiquitin ligase complex. Consequently, ASK1 stabilizes A3G and promotes its incorporation into viral particles, ultimately reducing viral infectivity. Furthermore, treatment with the antiretroviral drug AZT (zidovudine) induces ASK1 expression and restores the antiviral activity of A3G in HIV-1-infected cells. This study thus demonstrates a distinct function of ASK1 in restoring the host antiviral system that can be enhanced by AZT treatment.
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