The network will develop mechanism-based and dissociative inhibitors of HIV-1 protease. In vitro evaluation will be performed on the pure HIV protease produced within the network. The anti-HIV activities and the toxicity of synthetic compounds will be simultaneously evaluated on different cell lines. Finally, the in vivo activity of selected inhibitors will be tested on macaques.
The project is concerned with the identification of new molecules which act upon AIDS virus protease, but whose mechanism would be different from other known anti-proteases. This Concerted Action takes advantage of the participants' expertise in molecular modelling, organic synthesis, protein expression and purification, enzyme kinetics peptide vectorization and in vivo tests.
The known X-ray structures of the protease inhibitor complexes will first be used to characterise the pharmacophore and design new active-site inhibitors on the one hand and dissociative inhibitors on the other hand. Mechanism-based inhibitors (suicide substrates) would act in the active-site causing an irreversible inhibition of enzymatic activity whereas dissociative inhibitors will act in inhibiting dimerization. or promoting dissociation of protease into monomers. Combinatorial libraries will be used complementary to computer aided design. The synthesis of suicide substrates relies upon the development of synthetic routes to alpha-substituted glycines whereas dissociative inhibitors require synthesis of peptides and peptidomimetics.
Compounds synthesised will be evaluated in vitro using recombinant protease produced within the network and kinetically characterised. The anti-HIV activity will be simultaneously evaluated using replicating virus in different cell lines. The determination of in vivo efficacy using macaque infected with the engineered simian virus will be restricted to the most active compounds.