The emergence of drug-resistant variants has posed a significant setback against effective antiviral treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections. The choice of a nonmutable region of the viral genome such as the conserved transactivation response element (TAR element) in the 5′ long terminal repeat (LTR) may potentially be an effective target for drug development. We have earlier demonstrated that a polyamide nucleotide analog (PNA) targeted to the TAR hairpin element, when transfected into cells, can effectively inhibit Tat-mediated transactivation of HIV type 1 (HIV-1) LTR (T. Mayhood et al., Biochemistry 39:11532-11539, 2000). Here we show that this anti-TAR PNA (PNATAR), upon conjugation with a membrane-permeating peptide vector (transportan) retained its affinity for TAR in vitro similar to the unconjugated analog. The conjugate was efficiently internalized into the cells when added to the culture medium. Examination of the functional efficacy of the PNATAR-transportan conjugate in cell culture using luciferase reporter gene constructs resulted in a significant inhibition of Tat-mediated transactivation of HIV-1 LTR. Furthermore, PNATAR-transportan conjugate substantially inhibited HIV-1 production in chronically HIV-1-infected H9 cells. The mechanism of this inhibition appeared to be regulated at the level of transcription. These results demonstrate the efficacy of PNATAR-transportan as a potential anti-HIV agent.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science