1. A cell-penetrating helical peptide as a potential HIV-1 inhibitor
Hongtao Zhang, et al. J Mol Biol. 2008 May 2;378(3):565-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2008.02.066. Epub 2008 Mar 6.
The capsid domain of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag polyprotein is a critical determinant of virus assembly, and is therefore a potential target for developing drugs for AIDS therapy. Recently, a 12-mer alpha-helical peptide (CAI) was reported to disrupt immature- and mature-like capsid particle assembly in vitro; however, it failed to inhibit HIV-1 in cell culture due to its inability to penetrate cells. The same group reported the X-ray crystal structure of CAI in complex with the C-terminal domain of capsid (C-CA) at a resolution of 1.7 A. Using this structural information, we have utilized a structure-based rational design approach to stabilize the alpha-helical structure of CAI and convert it to a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP). The modified peptide (NYAD-1) showed enhanced alpha-helicity. Experiments with laser scanning confocal microscopy indicated that NYAD-1 penetrated cells and colocalized with the Gag polyprotein during its trafficking to the plasma membrane where virus assembly takes place. NYAD-1 disrupted the assembly of both immature- and mature-like virus particles in cell-free and cell-based in vitro systems. NMR chemical shift perturbation analysis mapped the binding site of NYAD-1 to residues 169-191 of the C-terminal domain of HIV-1 capsid encompassing the hydrophobic cavity and the critical dimerization domain with an improved binding affinity over CAI. Furthermore, experimental data indicate that NYAD-1 most likely targets capsid at a post-entry stage. Most significantly, NYAD-1 inhibited a large panel of HIV-1 isolates in cell culture at low micromolar potency. Our study demonstrates how a structure-based rational design strategy can be used to convert a cell-impermeable peptide to a cell-permeable peptide that displays activity in cell-based assays without compromising its mechanism of action. This proof-of-concept cell-penetrating peptide may aid validation of capsid as an anti-HIV-1 drug target and may help in designing peptidomimetics and small molecule drugs targeted to this protein.
2. Macrocyclization of Unprotected Peptide Isocyanates
Alexander A Vinogradov, Zi-Ning Choo, Kyle A Totaro, Bradley L Pentelute Org Lett. 2016 Mar 18;18(6):1226-9. doi: 10.1021/acs.orglett.5b03626. Epub 2016 Mar 7.
A chemistry for the facile two-component macrocyclization of unprotected peptide isocyanates is described. Starting from peptides containing two glutamic acid γ-hydrazide residues, isocyanates can be readily accessed and cyclized with hydrazides of dicarboxylic acids. The choice of a nucleophilic linker allows for the facile modulation of biochemical properties of a macrocyclic peptide. Four cyclic NYAD-1 analogues were synthesized using the described method and displayed a range of biological activities.
3. Dual-acting stapled peptides target both HIV-1 entry and assembly
Hongtao Zhang, et al. Retrovirology. 2013 Nov 15;10:136. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-10-136.
Background: Previously, we reported the conversion of the 12-mer linear and cell-impermeable peptide CAI to a cell-penetrating peptide NYAD-1 by using an i,i + 4 hydrocarbon stapling technique and confirmed its binding to the C-terminal domain (CTD) of the HIV-1 capsid (CA) protein with an improved affinity (K(d) ~ 1 μM) compared to CAI (K(d) ~ 15 μM). NYAD-1 disrupts the formation of both immature- and mature-like virus particles in in vitro and cell-based assembly assays. In addition, it displays potent anti-HIV-1 activity in cell culture against a range of laboratory-adapted and primary HIV-1 isolates. Results: In this report, we expanded the study to i,i + 7 hydrocarbon-stapled peptides to delineate their mechanism of action and antiviral activity. We identified three potent inhibitors, NYAD-36, -66 and -67, which showed strong binding to CA in NMR and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) studies and disrupted the formation of mature-like particles. They showed typical α-helical structures and penetrated cells; however, the cell penetration was not as efficient as observed with the i,i + 4 peptides. Unlike NYAD-1, the i,i + 7 peptides did not have any effect on virus release; however, they impaired Gag precursor processing. HIV-1 particles produced in the presence of these peptides displayed impaired infectivity. Consistent with an effect on virus entry, selection for viral resistance led to the emergence of two mutations in the gp120 subunit of the viral envelope (Env) glycoprotein, V120Q and A327P, located in the conserved region 1 (C1) and the base of the V3 loop, respectively. Conclusion: The i,i + 7 stapled peptides derived from CAI unexpectedly target both CA and the V3 loop of gp120. This dual-targeted activity is dependent on their ability to penetrate cells as well as their net charge. This mechanistic revelation will be useful in further modifying these peptides as potent anti-HIV-1 agents.