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1.  HIV-1 Nef Inhibits Protease Activity and Its Absence Alters Protein Content of Mature Viral Particles 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95352.
Nef is an important player for viral infectivity and AIDS progression, but the mechanisms involved are not completely understood. It was previously demonstrated that Nef interacts with GagPol through p6*-Protease region. Because p6* and Protease are involved in processing, we explored the effect of Nef on viral Protease activity and virion assembly. Using in vitro assays, we observed that Nef is highly capable of inhibiting Protease activity. The IC50 for nef-deficient viruses in drug susceptibility assays were 1.7- to 3.5-fold higher than the wild-type counterpart varying with the type of the Protease inhibitor used. Indicating that, in the absence of Nef, Protease is less sensitive to Protease inhibitors. We compared the protein content between wild-type and nef-deficient mature viral particles by gradient sedimentation and observed up to 2.7-fold reduction in the Integrase levels in nef-deficient mature particles. This difference in levels of Integrase correlated with the difference in infectivity levels of wild type and nef-deficient viral progeny. In addition, an overall decrease in the production of mature particles was detected in nef-deficient viruses. Collectively, our data support the hypothesis that the decreased infectivity typical of nef-deficient viruses is due to an abnormal function of the viral Protease, which is in turn associated with less mature particles being produced and the loss of Integrase content in these particles, and these results may characterize Nef as a regulator of viral Protease activity.
PMCID: PMC3991643  PMID: 24748174
2.  Synthetic 1,4-Pyran Naphthoquinones Are Potent Inhibitors of Dengue Virus Replication 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82504.
Dengue virus infection is a serious public health problem in endemic areas of the world where 2.5 billion people live. Clinical manifestations of the Dengue infection range from a mild fever to fatal cases of hemorrhagic fever. Although being the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral infection in the world, until now no strategies are available for effective prevention or control of Dengue infection. In this scenario, the development of compounds that specifically inhibit viral replication with minimal effects to the human hosts will have a substantial effect in minimizing the symptoms of the disease and help to prevent viral transmission in the affected population. The aim of this study was to screen compounds with potential activity against dengue virus from a library of synthetic naphthoquinones. Several 1,2- and 1,4-pyran naphthoquinones were synthesized by a three-component reaction of lawsone, aldehyde (formaldehyde or arylaldehydes) and different dienophiles adequately substituted. These compounds were tested for the ability to inhibit the ATPase activity of the viral NS3 enzyme in in vitro assays and the replication of dengue virus in cultured cells. We have identified two 1,4-pyran naphthoquinones, which inhibited dengue virus replication in mammal cells by 99.0% and three others that reduced the dengue virus ATPase activity of NS3 by two-fold in in vitro assays.
PMCID: PMC3869945  PMID: 24376541
3.  Development of a New Methodology for Screening of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Microbicides Based on Real-Time PCR Quantification▿  
Potential topical retrovirucides or vaginal microbicides against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) include nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). To be successful, such agents have to be highly active against cell-free virions. In the present study, we developed a new real-time PCR-based assay to measure the natural endogenous reverse transcription (NERT) activity directly on intact HIV-1 particles in the presence of reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors. We further evaluated the permeability to nevirapine (NVP) and efavirenz (EFV) and their retention within nascent viral particles. We also demonstrated the NVP and EFV inhibitory effects on NERT activity and the impact of resistance mutations measured directly by this new strategy. Furthermore, the results showed a clear correlation between NERT activity and classical infectivity assays. The 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) of NVP and EFV were demonstrated to be up to 100-fold higher for cell-free than for cell-associated virions, suggesting that cell-free virions are less permeable to these drugs. Our results suggest that NVP and EFV penetrate both the envelope and the capsid of HIV-1 particles and readily inactivate cell-free virions. However, the characteristics of these NNRTIs, such as lower permeability and lower retention during washing procedures, in cell-free virions reduce their efficacies as microbicides. Here, we demonstrate the usefulness of the NERT real-time PCR as an assay for screening novel antiretroviral compounds with unique mechanisms of action.
PMCID: PMC1797782  PMID: 17116672
4.  Interactions between Nef and AIP1 proliferate multivesicular bodies and facilitate egress of HIV-1 
Retrovirology  2006;3:33.
Nef is an accessory protein of primate lentiviruses, HIV-1, HIV-2 and SIV. Besides removing CD4 and MHC class I from the surface and activating cellular signaling cascades, Nef also binds GagPol during late stages of the viral replicative cycle. In this report, we investigated further the ability of Nef to facilitate the replication of HIV-1.
To this end, first the release of new viral particles was much lower in the absence of Nef in a T cell line. Since the same results were obtained in the absence of the viral envelope using pseudo-typed viruses, this phenomenon was independent of CD4 and enhanced infectivity. Next, we found that Nef not only possesses a consensus motif for but also binds AIP1 in vitro and in vivo. AIP1 is the critical intermediate in the formation of multivesicular bodies (MVBs), which play an important role in the budding and release of viruses from infected cells. Indeed, Nef proliferated MVBs in cells, but only when its AIP1-binding site was intact. Finally, these functions of Nef were reproduced in primary macrophages, where the wild type but not mutant Nef proteins led to increased release of new viral particles from infected cells.
We conclude that by binding GagPol and AIP1, Nef not only proliferates MVBs but also contributes to the egress of viral particles from infected cells.
PMCID: PMC1526754  PMID: 16764724
5.  Nef Binds p6* in GagPol during Replication of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(10):5311-5323.
The atypical Nef protein (NefF12) from human immunodeficiency virus type 1 strain F12 (HIV-1F12) interferes with virion production and infectivity via a mysterious mechanism. The correlation of these effects with the unusual perinuclear subcellular localization of NefF12 suggested that the wild-type Nef protein could bind to assembly intermediates in late stages of viral replication. To test this hypothesis, Nef from HIV-1NL4-3 was fused to an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) retention signal (NefKKXX). This mutant NefKKXX protein recapitulated fully the effects of NefF12 on Gag processing and virion production, either alone or as a CD8 fusion protein. Importantly, the mutant NefKKXX protein also localized to the intermediate compartment, between the ER and the trans-Golgi network. Furthermore, Nef bound the GagPol polyprotein in vitro and in vivo. This binding mapped to the C-terminal flexible loop in Nef and the transframe p6* protein in GagPol. The significance of this interaction was demonstrated by a genetic assay in which the release of a mutant HIV-1 provirus lacking the PTAP motif in the late domain that no longer binds Tsg101 was rescued by a Nef.Tsg101 chimera. Importantly, this rescue as well as incorporation of Nef into HIV-1 virions correlated with the ability of Nef to interact with GagPol. Our data demonstrate that the retention of Nef in the intermediate compartment interferes with viral replication and suggest a new role for Nef in the production of HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC400368  PMID: 15137387

Results 1-5 (5)