A multicenter collaboration between the NCI-Frederick Molecular Targets Discovery and HIV Drug Resistance Programs, the National Institute of Child Health and Development, and the University of Pittsburgh has used high-throughput robotics to screen several libraries, totaling 250,000 compounds, for small-molecule inhibitors of HIV RNase H function. Secondary screening against bacterial and human RNase H has addressed whether selectivity for the retroviral enzyme can be achieved. Several structural classes of RNase H inhibitors have been identified by this strategy, the most potent of which was the hydroxylated tropolone beta-thujaplicinol. Derived from the bark of the western cedar Thuja plicata, beta-thujaplicinol inhibited HIV-1 RT/RNaseH at a concentration of 0.2 uM, while the IC50 for human RNase H was 6.0 uM and that of the bacterial enzyme >50 uM. In addition, beta-thujaplicinol was shown to synergize with the nonnucleoside inhibitor calanolide A, strengthening contentions from other groups that both the DNA polymerase and RNase H activities of HIV-1 RT can be simultaneously targeted. Vinylogous ureas constitute a second structural class of RNase H inhibitors, and a patent covering these inhibitors has been submitted. Structural studies to define the binding site of the most potent RNase H inhibitors are currently underway. We are continuing our studies on RNase H as an antiviral target by (1) using crystallographic data to alter residues of RT implicated in inhibitor binding, (2) synthesizing novel derivatives of both structural classes, and (3) investigating the relationship between impaired RNase H function and increased excision of chain-terminating nucleoside RT inhibitors (NRTIs). Site-specific derivatization with a novel trifunctional agent will also be investigated as a general method of creating fluorescent proteins, allowing fluorescence polarization to be used for screening protein:protein interactions. Initial studies will focus on the interaction of the host protein lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF) with HIV-1 integrase. [Corresponds to Le Grice Project 3 in the April 2007 site visit report of the HIV Drug Resistance Program]

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National Cancer Institute (NCI)
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