Objective: To analyze a novel compound, which inhibits serine-threonine protein kinase p38, for its possible bioactivity against HIV-1 infection. Methods: Proteins involved in cellular signal transduction pathways represent a novel class of host therapeutic targets for infectious diseases. In this regard the serine/ threonine kinase p38 MAPK, a member of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase superfamily of signal transduction molecules may play an important role in HIV-1 infection. We analyzed the ability of this compound (RWJ67657) to inhibit HIV replication in primary T cells and monocytes. Cellular expression of phosphop38MAPK was studied by Western blot analysis. Blockade of HIV infection induced apoptosis was measured by Annexin V staining. Results: p38 inhibitor RWJ67657 was effective in inhibiting HIV-1 replication in both T-cell and monocyte cell lines, irrespective of the coreceptor used by the virus for entry into the cell. Importantly, both reverse transcriptase and protease resistant escape mutant viruses were effectively suppressed by RWJ67657. In addition, the tested compounds block HIV-induced T-cell apoptosis, a critical means of T-cell depletion linked to AIDS progression. Conclusion: Several steps in the HIV-1 virus life cycle appear to depend on cellular activation, including activation of the p38 pathway. Without activation virus replication is thought to be blocked due to incomplete reverse transcription and a lack of proviral DNA integration. The data collectively illustrate that inhibition of the p38 pathway can affect HIV-1 replication. Interruption of HIV infection by p38 inhibitors underscores the value of exploring antiviral drugs that target host cellular proteins.
- Viral replication
- p38MAPK/JNK inhibitor