HIV-1 Protease Inhibitors Incorporating Stereochemically Defined P2' Ligands to Optimize Hydrogen Bonding in the Substrate Envelope

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology; Schiffer Lab

Publication Date


Document Type



Biochemistry | Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutics | Medicinal-Pharmaceutical Chemistry | Molecular Biology | Structural Biology


A structure-guided design strategy was used to improve the resistance profile of HIV-1 protease inhibitors by optimizing hydrogen bonding and van der Waals interactions with the protease while staying within the substrate envelope. Stereoisomers of 4-(1-hydroxyethyl)benzene and 4-(1,2-dihydroxyethyl)benzene moieties were explored as P2' ligands providing pairs of diastereoisomers epimeric at P2', which exhibited distinct potency profiles depending on the configuration of the hydroxyl group and size of the P1' group. While compounds with the 4-(1-hydroxyethyl)benzene P2' moiety maintained excellent antiviral potency against a panel of multidrug-resistant HIV-1 strains, analogues with the polar 4-(1,2-dihydroxyethyl)benzene moiety were less potent, and only the (R)-epimer incorporating a larger 2-ethylbutyl P1' group showed improved potency. Crystal structures of protease-inhibitor complexes revealed strong hydrogen bonding interactions of both (R)- and (S)-stereoisomers of the hydroxyethyl group with Asp30'. Notably, the (R)-dihydroxyethyl group was involved in a unique pattern of direct hydrogen bonding interactions with the backbone amides of Asp29' and Asp30'. The SAR data and analysis of crystal structures provide insights for optimizing these promising HIV-1 protease inhibitors.

DOI of Published Version



J Med Chem. 2019 Aug 6. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b00838. [Epub ahead of print] Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of medicinal chemistry

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Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID