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The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) genome encodes three major structural proteins common to all retroviruses (Gag, Pol and Env), two regulatory proteins (Tat and Rev) that are essential for viral replication, and four accessory proteins (Nef, Vif, Vpu, Vpr). While accessory proteins were initially reported to be unnecessary for viral growth, their importance as virulence factors is now being more and more appreciated: they can dramatically alter the course and severity of viral infection, replication and disease progression. None of the HIV accessory proteins display enzymatic activity: they rather act altering cellular pathways via multiple protein-protein interactions with a number of host cell factors. All currently approved anti-HIV drugs target pol and env encoded proteins. Therefore, widening the molecular targets of HIV therapy by additionally targeting accessory proteins may expand treatment options, resulting in high impact effective new therapy. In this review we present the state of the art of compounds that target HIV accessory proteins. Most of the research has focused on the inhibition of specific accessory proteins/host cell partner interactions. Promising compounds have been found within different classes of molecules: small natural and synthetic molecules, peptides and proteins, oligonucleotides, in particular those used as RNA interference (RNAi) tools. With the assortment of compounds available, especially against Nef and Vif functions, the demonstration of the clinical efficacy of the new anti-HIV-1 drugs targeting accessory proteins is next challenge.
Department of Histology, Microbiology and Medical Biotechnologies, University of Padova, via, Gabelli 63, 35121 Padova, Italy.
Publication date: January 1, 2009
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Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.