Development of a novel anti-HIV-1 agent from within: Effect of chimeric Vpr-containing protease cleavage site residues on virus replication

D. Serio, T. A. Rizvi, M. Cartas, V. S. Kalyanaraman, I. T. Weber, H. Koprowski, A. Srinivasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Effective antiviral agents will be of great value in controlling virus replication and delaying the onset of HIV-1-related disease symptoms. Current therapy involves the use of antiviral agents that target the enzymatic functions of the virus, resulting in the emergence of resistant viruses to these agents, thus lowering their effectiveness. To overcome this problem, we have considered the idea of developing novel agents from within HIV-1 as inhibitors of virus replication. The specificity of the Vpr protein for the HIV-1 virus particle makes it an attractive molecule for the development of antiviral agents targeting the events associated with virus maturation. We have generated chimeric Vpr proteins containing HIV-1-specific sequences added to the C terminus of Vpr. These sequences correspond to nine cleavage sites of the Gag and Gag-Pol precursors of HIV-1. The chimeric Vpr constructs were introduced into HIV-1 proviral DNA to assess their effect on virus infectivity using single- and multiple-round replication assays. The virus particles generated exhibited a variable replication pattern depending on the protease cleavage site used as a fusion partner. Interestingly, the chimeric Vpr containing the cleavage sequences from the junction of p24 and p2, 24/2, completely abolished virus infectivity. These results show that chimeric proteins generated from within HIV-1 have the ability to suppress HIV-1 replication and make ideal agents for gene therapy or intracellular immunization to treat HIV-1 infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3346-3351
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • colocalization
  • precursor processing
  • protease cleavage signal
  • virion maturation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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