A novel multivalent DNA helix–based inhibitor showed enhanced anti–HIV-1 fusion activity

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DNA helix–based HIV-1 fusion inhibitors have been discovered as potent drug candidates, but further research is required to enhance their efficiency. The trimeric structure of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein provides a structural basis for multivalent drug design. In this work, a “multi-domain” strategy was adopted for design of an oligodeoxynucleotide with assembly, linkage, and activity domains. Built on the self-assembly of higher-order nucleic acid structure, a novel category of multivalent DNA helix–based HIV-1 fusion inhibitor could be easily obtained by a simple annealing course in solution buffer, with no other chemical synthesis for multivalent connection. An optimized multivalent molecule, M4, showed significantly higher anti–HIV-1 fusion activity than did corresponding monovalent inhibitors. Examination of the underlying mechanism indicated that M4 could interact with HIV-1 glycoproteins gp120 and gp41, thereby inhibiting 6HB formation in the fusion course. M4 also showed anti-RDDP and anti-RNase H activity of reverse transcriptase. Besides, these assembled molecules showed improved in vitro metabolic stability in liver homogenate, kidney homogenate, and rat plasma. Moreover, little acute toxicity was observed. Our findings aid in the structural design and understanding of the mechanisms of DNA helix–based HIV-1 inhibitors. This study also provides a general strategy based on a new structural paradigm for the design of other multivalent nucleic acid drugs.

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