Recent efforts by both academic and pharmaceutical researchers have focused on the HIV-1 capsid (CA) protein as a new therapeutic target. An inter-protomer pocket within the hexamer configuration of the CA, which is also a binding site for key host dependency factors, is the target of the most widely studied CA inhibitor compound PF-3450074 (PF-74). Despite its popularity, PF-74 suffers from properties that limit its usefulness as a lead, most notably it’s extremely poor metabolic stability. To minimize unfavorable qualities, we investigated bioisosteric modification of the PF-74 scaffold as a first step in redeveloping this compound. Using a field-based bioisostere identification method, coupled with biochemical and biological assessment, we have created four new compounds that inhibit HIV-1 infection and that bind to the assembled CA hexamer. Detailed mechanism of action studies indicates that the modifications alter the manner in which these new compounds affect HIV-1 capsid core stability, as compared to the parental compound. Further investigations are underway to redevelop these compounds to optimize potency and drug-like characteristics and to deeply define the mechanism of action.

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