HIV-1 Tat protein interacts with TAR RNA and recruits CDK9/cyclin T1 and other host factors to induce HIV-1 transcription. Thus Tat-TAR RNA interaction, which is unique for HIV-1, represents an attractive target for anti-HIV-1 therapeutics. To target Tat-TAR RNA interaction, we used a crystal structure of TAR RNA with acetylpromazine bound to the bulge of TAR RNA, to dock compounds from Enamine database containing 1.6 million individual compounds. Docking identified 173 compounds that were analyzed for the inhibition of HIV-1 infection. Top ten inhibitory compounds with IC50 ≤ 6 µM were selected and the three least toxic compounds, T6780107 (IC50=2.97 μM), T0516-4834 (IC50=0.2 μM) and T5628834 (IC50=3.46 μM), were further tested for HIV-1 transcription inhibition. Only T0516-4834 compound showed selective inhibition of Tat-induced HIV-1 transcription, whereas T6780107 compound inhibited equally basal and Tat-induced transcription and T5628834 compound only inhibited basal HIV-1 transcription. The T0516-4834 compound also showed strongest inhibition of HIV-1 gag RNA expression and p24 production in CEM T cells infected with HIV-1 IIIB. Of the three compounds, only the T0516-4834 compound disrupted Tat-TAR RNA interaction indicating that it might target TAR RNA. Also, of the three tested compounds, T5628834 but not T6780107 or T0516-4834 disrupted Tat-CDK9/cyclin T1 interaction. Taken together, our study identified novel compound T0516-4834 that disrupted Tat-TAR RNA interaction and inhibited Tat-induced transcription and HIV-1 infection suggesting that this compound might serve as a new lead for anti-HIV-1 therapeutics.
HIV-1 transcription; HIV-1 Tat; TAR RNA; small molecule inhibitors
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