Structural and mechanistic bases for a potent HIV-1 capsid inhibitor

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Science  16 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6514, pp. 360-364
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb4808

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Attacking HIV by stabilizing its capsid

Current HIV treatments require drugs that must be taken daily, and care would be improved with an effective drug that is long-acting. GS-6207 (Lenacapavir) is a drug developed by Gilead Sciences that shows potential for a 6-month dosing interval and is in phase 2/3 clinical trials. Bester et al. describe structural and biophysical studies that provide a basis for the potent antiviral activity of GS-6207. The HIV capsid is cone shaped, and GS-6207 binds two neighboring capsid subunits and stabilizes the curved capsid. GS-6207 also interferes with capsid binding of cofactors that play a role in viral infection. This insight into GS-6207 activity provides a platform for the rational development of improved long-acting therapies.

Science, this issue p. 360


The potent HIV-1 capsid inhibitor GS-6207 is an investigational principal component of long-acting antiretroviral therapy. We found that GS-6207 inhibits HIV-1 by stabilizing and thereby preventing functional disassembly of the capsid shell in infected cells. X-ray crystallography, cryo–electron microscopy, and hydrogen-deuterium exchange experiments revealed that GS-6207 tightly binds two adjoining capsid subunits and promotes distal intra- and inter-hexamer interactions that stabilize the curved capsid lattice. In addition, GS-6207 interferes with capsid binding to the cellular HIV-1 cofactors Nup153 and CPSF6 that mediate viral nuclear import and direct integration into gene-rich regions of chromatin. These findings elucidate structural insights into the multimodal, potent antiviral activity of GS-6207 and provide a means for rationally developing second-generation therapies.

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