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1.  Antiviral Activity of Retrocyclin RC-101, a Candidate Microbicide Against Cell-Associated HIV-1 
Microbicides have been evaluated mostly against cell-free HIV-1. Because semen contains both cell-free and cell-associated HIV-1, HIV-1 transmission could occur via either or both sources. Therefore, it is important to examine the antiviral activity of microbicides against cell-associated HIV-1. The cyclic antimicrobial peptide retrocyclin RC-101 has been shown previously to have antiviral activity against cell-free HIV-1, with no associated cellular toxicity. In this article we have examined the antiviral activity of RC-101 against cell-associated HIV-1. The results demonstrate potent antiviral activity of RC-101 against cell–cell HIV-1 transmission in both CD4-dependent and CD4-independent assays against CCR5- and CXCR4-tropic HIV-1, with no cellular toxicity. Furthermore, this antiviral activity was retained in the presence of human seminal plasma. The potent antiviral activity of RC-101 against cell-associated HIV-1 reported here, and the previously reported antiviral activity in cervical tissues, suggest that RC-101 is an excellent and promising microbicide candidate against HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC3552163  PMID: 22924614
2.  Development of indole compounds as small molecule fusion inhibitors targeting HIV-1 glycoprotein-41 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(20):7220-7231.
Non-peptide inhibition of fusion remains an important goal in anti-HIV research, due to its potential for low cost prophylaxis or prevention of cell–cell transmission of the virus. We report here on a series of indole compounds that have been identified as fusion inhibitors of gp41 through a structure-based drug design approach. Experimental binding affinities of the compounds for the hydrophobic pocket were strongly correlated to fusion inhibitory data (R2 = 0.91), and corresponding inhibition of viral replication confirmed the hydrophobic pocket as a valid target for low molecular weight fusion inhibitors. The most active compound bound to the hydrophobic pocket and inhibited cell-cell fusion and viral replication at sub-µM levels. A common binding mode for the inhibitors in this series was established by carrying out docking studies using structures of gp41 in the Protein Data Bank. The molecules were flexible enough to conform to the contours of the pocket, and the most active compound was able to adopt a structure mimicking the hydrophobic contacts of the D-peptide PIE7. The results enhance our understanding of indole compounds as inhibitors of gp41.
PMCID: PMC3234170  PMID: 21928824
gp41; small molecule; fusion inhibitor; docking; indole
3.  Potent Strategy To Inhibit HIV-1 by Binding both gp120 and gp41 ▿ †  
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 (IC50) of 1.31 ± 0.87 nM and the gp41-binding peptide C37 shows an IC50 of 18.2 ± 7.6 nM, the covalently linked combination of griffithsin with C37 (Griff37) has an IC50 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.
PMCID: PMC3019634  PMID: 20956603
4.  Safety and anti-HIV assessments of natural vaginal cleansing products in an established topical microbicides in vitro testing algorithm 
At present, there is no effective vaccine or other approved product for the prevention of sexually transmitted human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. It has been reported that women in resource-poor communities use vaginally applied citrus juices as topical microbicides. These easily accessible food products have historically been applied to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and cytotoxicity of these substances using an established topical microbicide testing algorithm. Freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice and household vinegar were tested in their original state or in pH neutralized form for efficacy and cytotoxicity in the CCR5-tropic cell-free entry and cell-associated transmission assays, CXCR4-tropic entry and fusion assays, and in a human PBMC-based anti-HIV-1 assay. These products were also tested for their effect on viability of cervico-vaginal cell lines, human cervical explant tissues, and beneficial Lactobacillus species.
Natural lime and lemon juice and household vinegar demonstrated anti-HIV-1 activity and cytotoxicity in transformed cell lines. Neutralization of the products reduced both anti-HIV-1 activity and cytotoxicity, resulting in a low therapeutic window for both acidic and neutralized formulations. For the natural juices and vinegar, the IC50 was ≤ 3.5 (0.8-3.5)% and the TC50 ≤ 6.3 (1.0-6.3)%. All three liquid products inhibited viability of beneficial Lactobacillus species associated with vaginal health. Comparison of three different toxicity endpoints in the cervical HeLa cell line revealed that all three products affected membrane integrity, cytosolic enzyme release, and dehydrogenase enzyme activity in living cells. The juices and vinegar also exerted strong cytotoxicity in cervico-vaginal cell lines, mainly due to their acidic pH. In human cervical explant tissues, treatment with 5% lemon or lime juice or 6% vinegar induced toxicity similar to application of 100 μg/ml nonoxynol-9, and exposure to 10% lime juice caused tissue damage comparable to treatment with 5% Triton-X-100.
Lemon and lime juice and household vinegar do not fulfill the safety criteria mandated for a topical microbicide. As a result of their unphysiological formulation for the vaginal tract, they exhibit cytotoxicity to human cell lines, human vaginal tissues, and beneficial vaginal Lactobacillus species.
PMCID: PMC2913913  PMID: 20618951
5.  Development of a Comprehensive Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Screening Algorithm for Discovery and Preclinical Testing of Topical Microbicides▿  
Topical microbicides are self-administered, prophylactic products for protection against sexually transmitted pathogens. A large number of compounds with known anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) inhibitory activity have been proposed as candidate topical microbicides. To identify potential leads, an in vitro screening algorithm was developed to evaluate candidate microbicides in assays that assess inhibition of cell-associated and cell-free HIV-1 transmission, entry, and fusion. The algorithm advances compounds by evaluation in a series of defined assays that generate measurements of relative antiviral potency to determine advancement or failure. Initial testing consists of a dual determination of inhibitory activity in the CD4-dependent CCR5-tropic cell-associated transmission inhibition assay and in the CD4/CCR5-mediated HIV-1 entry assay. The activity is confirmed by repeat testing, and identified actives are advanced to secondary screens to determine their effect on transmission of CXCR4-tropic viruses in the presence or absence of CD4 and their ability to inhibit CXCR4- and CCR5-tropic envelope-mediated cell-to-cell fusion. In addition, confirmed active compounds are also evaluated in the presence of human seminal plasma, in assays incorporating a pH 4 to 7 transition, and for growth inhibition of relevant strains of lactobacilli. Leads may then be advanced for specialized testing, including determinations in human cervical explants and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells against primary HIV subtypes, combination testing with other inhibitors, and additional cytotoxicity assays. PRO 2000 and SPL7013 (the active component of VivaGel), two microbicide products currently being evaluated in human clinical trials, were tested in this in vitro algorithm and were shown to be highly active against CCR5- and CXCR4-tropic HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC2346625  PMID: 18316528
6.  Transcriptional Analysis of Latent and Inducible Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Transcripts in the K4 to K7 Region†  
Journal of Virology  2005;79(24):15099-15106.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a gamma-2 herpesvirus with a genome containing a long unique coding region (LUR) flanked by GC-rich terminal repeat sequences. The LUR encodes approximately 90 annotated open reading frames (ORFs) with complex patterns of gene expression during viral latency, reactivation, and de novo infection. To identify unannotated KSHV genes, we examined the region between 21,500 and 30,000 bp of the KSHV LUR, representing approximately 8.5 kb of sequence. This region encodes seven known single-exon ORFs (K4, K4.1, K4.2, K5, K6, K7, and PAN), but previous computer analyses have failed to identify additional likely genes in the remaining 5.2 kb. We identified four novel transcripts using Northern blotting, phage library screening, and 5′ rapid amplification of cDNA ends analysis in the region between ORFs K4.2 and K7. In vitro analysis of KSHV-infected primary effusion lymphoma cell lines in the presence of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate and phosphonoformic acid suggests that one latent transcript is coterminal with the previously annotated K3 gene encoding an ubiquitin-ligase known to downregulate major histocompatibility complex class I expression. This alternatively spliced transcript may contribute to KSHV adaptive immune evasion during latent infection. Other transcripts are inducible, including a 6.1-kb transcript that is the largest transcript found in the KSHV genome to date.
PMCID: PMC1315995  PMID: 16306581

Results 1-6 (6)