Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


Anti-HIV Agents; Gene Products, vif; Cytidine Deaminase; Academic Dissertations; Dissertations, UMMS


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1), the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), attacks the immune system leaving patients susceptible to opportunistic infections that eventually cause death. Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy, HAART, is the current drug strategy used to combat HIV. It is a combination therapy that includes HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase and HIV-1 Protease inhibitors. Drug resistant strains arise that evade current HAART treatments; therefore novel drugs are needed.

HIV-1 regulatory proteins such as Tat, Rev, Nef, Vpr, Vpu, and Vif are attractive new drug targets. Of particular interest is the HIV-1 Vif protein and its cellular binding partner APOBEC3G. In the absence of HIV-1 Vif, APOBEC3G, a cytidine deaminase, is able to mutate the viral cDNA and render the virus noninfectious. HIV-1 Vif binds to APOBEC3G and targets it for proteosomal degradation through an interaction with a Cullin-RING ligase complex. Blocking the HIV-1 Vif APOBEC3G interaction would allow APOBEC3G to perform its antiviral function.

An attractive strategy to target the HIV-1 Vif APOBEC3G interaction would be a structure-based one. To apply structure-based drug design approaches to HIV-1 Vif and APOBEC3G, I attempted to collect high resolution structural data on HIV-1 Vif and APOBEC3G. My attempts were unsuccessful because the milligram quantities of soluble protein required were not obtained.

Therefore, in Chapter III I used chemical cross-linking and mass spectrometry to probe the structural topology of HIV-1 Vif obtaining low resolution structural data. Chemical cross-linking formed HIV-1 Vif multimers including dimers, trimers, and tetramers. Analysis of the cross-linked monomer revealed that HIV-1 Vif’s N-terminal domain is a well-folded, compact, globular domain, where as the C-teriminal domain is predicted to be disordered. In addition, disorder prediction programs predicted the C-terminal domain of HIV-1 Vif to be disordered. Upon oligomerization the C-terminal domain undergoes a disorder-to-order transition that not only facilitates oligomerization but may facilitate other protein-protein interactions. In addition, HIV-1 Vif oligomerization bring Lys34 and Glu134 in close proximity to each other likely creating one molecular surface forming a “hot spot” of biological activity.

In Chapter IV I confirmed my low resolution structural data via peptide competition experiments where I identified peptides that can be used as scaffolds for future drug design. HIV-1 Vif oligomerization is concentration dependent. The HIV-1 Vif peptides Vif(29-43) and Vif(125-139) were able to disrupt HIV-1 Vif oligomerization, which confirms the low resolution structural data. HIV-1 Vif peptides Vif(25-39) and Vif(29-43) reduced the amount of APOBEC3G immobilized on the Protein A beads, reduced the amount of HIV-1 Vif interacting with APOBEC3G, or degraded APOBEC3G itself. These peptides could be used as scaffolds to design novel drugs that disrupt the function of HIV-1 Vif and or APOBEC3G.

Therefore, low resolution structural data and peptide competition experiments were successful in identifying structurally important domains in HIV-1 Vif. They also provided insight into a possible mechanism for HIV-1 Vif function where a disorder-to-order transition facilitates HIV-1 Vif’s ability to interact with a diverse set of macromolecules. These data advance our structural understanding of HIV-1 Vif and they will facilitate future highresolution studies and novel drug designs.

Rights and Permissions

Copyright is held by the author, with all rights reserved.