Molecular Docking-Based Screening for Novel Inhibitors of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Protease that Effectively Reduce the Viral Replication in Human Cells


Therapeutic pressure by protease inhibitors (PIs) contributes to accumulation of mutations in the HIV type 1 (HIV-1) protease (PR) leading to development of drug resistance with subsequent therapy failure. Current PIs target the active site of PR in a competitive manner. Identification of molecules that exploit non-active site mechanisms of inhibition is essential to overcome resistance to current PIs. Potential non-active site HIV-1 protease (PR) inhibitors (PI) were identified by in silico screening of almost 140,000 molecules targeting the hinge region of PR. Inhibitory activity of best docking compounds was tested in an in vitro PR inhibition biochemical assay. Five compounds inhibited PR from multiple HIV-1 sub-types in vitro and reduced replicative capacity by PI-sensitive or multi-PI resistant HIV-1 variants in human cells ex vivo. Antiviral activity was boosted when combined with Ritonavir, potentially diminishing development of drug resistance, while providing effective treatment for drug resistant HIV-1 variants.