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Augusto M.T.,University of Lisbon | Hollmann A.,University of Lisbon | Troise F.,CEINGE Biotecnologie Avanzate S.C.R.L. | Veiga A.S.,University of Lisbon | And 2 more authors.
Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces | Year: 2017

The HIV broadly neutralizing antibody 2F5 targets the transiently exposed epitope in the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of HIV-1 gp41, by a two-step mechanism involving the viral membrane and this viral glycoprotein. It was recently shown that 2F5 conjugation with a cholesterol moiety outside of the antibody paratope substantially increases its antiviral activity. Additionally, the antiviral activity of D5, a human antibody that binds to the N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR) of gp41 and lacks membrane binding, was boosted by the same cholesterol conjugation. In this work, we evaluated the membrane affinity of both antibodies towards membranes of different compositions, using surface plasmon resonance. A correlation was found between membrane affinity and antiviral activity against HIV-1. We propose that the conjugation of cholesterol to 2F5 or D5 allows a higher degree of antibody pre-concentration at the viral membrane. This way, the antibodies become more available to bind efficiently to the gp41 epitope, blocking viral fusion faster than the unconjugated antibody. These results set up a relevant strategy to improve the rational design of therapeutic antibodies against HIV. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.


Porotto M.,Cornell University | Rockx B.,National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases | Yokoyama C.C.,Cornell University | Talekar A.,Cornell University | And 8 more authors.
PLoS Pathogens | Year: 2010

In the paramyxovirus cell entry process, receptor binding triggers conformational changes in the fusion protein (F) leading to viral and cellular membrane fusion. Peptides derived from C-terminal heptad repeat (HRC) regions in F have been shown to inhibit fusion by preventing formation of the fusogenic six-helix bundle. We recently showed that the addition of a cholesterol group to HRC peptides active against Nipah virus targets these peptides to the membrane where fusion occurs, dramatically increasing their antiviral effect. In this work, we report that unlike the untagged HRC peptides, which bind to the postulated extended intermediate state bridging the viral and cell membranes, the cholesterol tagged HRC-derived peptides interact with F before the fusion peptide inserts into the target cell membrane, thus capturing an earlier stage in the F-activation process. Furthermore, we show that cholesterol tagging renders these peptides active in vivo: the cholesterol-tagged peptides cross the blood brain barrier, and effectively prevent and treat in an established animal model what would otherwise be fatal Nipah virus encephalitis. The in vivo efficacy of cholesterol-tagged peptides, and in particular their ability to penetrate the CNS, suggests that they are promising candidates for the prevention or therapy of infection by Nipah and other lethal paramyxoviruses.


While it is now possible to identify and genetically fingerprint the causative agents of emerging viral diseases, often with extraordinary speed, suitable therapies cannot be developed with equivalent speed, because drug discovery requires information that goes beyond knowledge of the viral genome. Peptides, however, may represent a special opportunity. For all enveloped viruses, fusion between the viral and the target cell membrane is an obligatory step of the life cycle. Class I fusion proteins harbor regions with a repeating pattern of amino acids, the heptad repeats (HRs), that play a key role in fusion, and HR-derived peptides such as enfuvirtide, in clinical use for HIV, can block the process. Because of their characteristic sequence pattern, HRs are easily identified in the genome by means of computer programs, providing the sequence of candidate peptide inhibitors directly from genomic information. Moreover, a simple chemical modification, the attachment of a cholesterol group, can dramatically increase the antiviral potency of HR-derived inhibitors and simultaneously improve their pharmacokinetics. Further enhancement can be provided by dimerization of the cholesterol-conjugated peptide. The examples reported so far include inhibitors of retroviruses, paramyxoviruses, orthomyxoviruses, henipaviruses, coronaviruses, and filoviruses. For some of these viruses, in vivo efficacy has been demonstrated in suitable animal models. The combination of bioinformatic lead identification and potency/pharmacokinetics improvement provided by cholesterol conjugation may form the basis for a rapid response strategy, where development of an emergency cholesterol-conjugated therapeutic would immediately follow the availability of the genetic information of a new enveloped virus. Copyright © 2014 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Augusto M.T.,University of Lisbon | Hollmann A.,University of Lisbon | Castanho M.A.R.B.,University of Lisbon | Porotto M.,Cornell University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy | Year: 2014

Objectives: The aim of the present work was to evaluate the interaction of two new HIV fusion inhibitors {HIVP3 [C34-polyethylene glycol (PEG)4-cholesterol] and HIVP4 [(C34-PEG4)2-cholesterol]} with membrane model systems and human blood cells in order to clarify where and how the fusion inhibitors locate, allowing us to understand their mechanism of action at the molecular level, and which strategies may be followed to increase efficacy. Methods: Lipid vesicles with defined compositions were used for peptide partition and localization studies, based on the intrinsic fluorescence of HIVP3 and HIVP4. Lipid monolayers were employed in surface pressure studies. Finally, human erythrocytes and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) isolated from blood samples were used in dipole potential assays. Results: Membrane partition, dipole potential and surface pressure assays indicate that the new fusion inhibitors interact preferentially with cholesterol-rich liquid-ordered membranes, mimicking biological membrane microdomains known as lipid rafts. HIVP3 and HIVP4 are able to interact with human erythrocytes and PBMCs to a similar degree as a previously described simpler drug with monomeric C34 and lacking the PEG spacer, C34-cholesterol. However, the pocket-binding domain (PBD) of both HIVP3 and HIVP4 is more exposed to the aqueous environment than in C34-cholesterol. Conclusions: The present data allow us to conclude that more efficient blocking of HIV entry results from the synergism between the membranotropic behaviour and the enhanced exposure of the PBD. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. All rights reserved.


Talekar A.,Cornell University | Pessi A.,PeptiPharma | Glickman F.,Rockefeller University | Sengupta U.,Cornell University | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Emerging viruses including Nipah, Hendra, Lujo, and Junin viruses have enormous potential to spread rapidly. Nipah virus, after emerging as a zoonosis, has also evolved the capacity for human-to-human transmission. Most of the diseases caused by these pathogens are untreatable and require high biocontainment conditions. Universal methods for rapidly identifying and screening candidate antivirals are urgently needed. We have developed a modular antiviral platform strategy that relies on simple bioinformatic and genetic information about each pathogen. Central to this platform is the use of envelope glycoprotein cDNAs to establish multi-cycle replication systems under BSL2 conditions for viral pathogens that normally require BSL3 and BSL4 facilities. We generated monoclonal antibodies against Nipah G by cDNA immunization in rats, and we showed that these antibodies neutralize both Nipah and Hendra live viruses. We then used these effective Henipavirus inhibitors to validate our screening strategy. Our proposed strategy should contribute to the response capability for emerging infectious diseases, providing a way to initiate antiviral development immediately upon identifying novel viruses. © 2012 Talekar et al.


Lee K.K.,University of Washington | Pessi A.,PeptiPharma | Gui L.,University of Washington | Santoprete A.,IRBM Science Park | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Biological Chemistry | Year: 2011

We previously described fusion-inhibitory peptides that are targeted to the cell membrane by cholesterol conjugation and potently inhibit enveloped viruses that fuse at the cell surface, including HIV, parainfluenza, and henipaviruses. However, for viruses that fuse inside of intracellular compartments, fusion-inhibitory peptides have exhibited very low antiviral activity. We propose that for these viruses, too, membrane targeting via cholesterol conjugation may yield potent compounds. Here we compare the activity of fusion-inhibitory peptides derived from the influenza hemagglutinin (HA) and show that although the unconjugated peptides are inactive, the cholesterol-conjugated compounds are effective inhibitors of infectivity and membrane fusion. We hypothesize that the cholesterol moiety, by localizing the peptides to the target cell membrane, allows the peptides to follow the virus to the intracellular site of fusion. The cholesterol- conjugated peptides trap HA in a transient intermediate state after fusion is triggered but before completion of the refolding steps that drive the merging of the viral and cellular membranes. These results provide proof of concept for an antiviral strategy that is applicable to intracellularly fusing viruses, including known and emerging viral pathogens. © 2011 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


Pessi A.,PeptiPharma | Langella A.,Merck Serono | Capito E.,BASF | Ghezzi S.,San Raffaele Scientific Institute | And 11 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Fusion between the viral and target cell membranes is an obligatory step for the infectivity of all enveloped virus, and blocking this process is a clinically validated therapeutic strategy. Viral fusion is driven by specialized proteins which, although specific to each virus, act through a common mechanism, the formation of a complex between two heptad repeat (HR) regions. The HR regions are initially separated in an intermediate termed "prehairpin", which bridges the viral and cell membranes, and then fold onto each other to form a 6-helical bundle (6HB), driving the two membranes to fuse. HR-derived peptides can inhibit viral infectivity by binding to the prehairpin intermediate and preventing its transition to the 6HB. The antiviral activity of HR-derived peptides differs considerably among enveloped viruses. For weak inhibitors, potency can be increased by peptide engineering strategies, but sequence-specific optimization is time-consuming. In seeking ways to increase potency without changing the native sequence, we previously reported that attachment to the HR peptide of a cholesterol group ("cholesterol-tagging") dramatically increases its antiviral potency, and simultaneously increases its half-life in vivo. We show here that antiviral potency may be increased by combining cholesterol-tagging with dimerization of the HR-derived sequence, using as examples human parainfluenza virus, Nipah virus, and HIV-1. Together, cholesterol-tagging and dimerization may represent strategies to boost HR peptide potency to levels that in some cases may be compatible with in vivo use, possibly contributing to emergency responses to outbreaks of existing or novel viruses. © 2012 Pessi et al.


PubMed | PeptiPharma, University of Gdansk, University of Nottingham and CEINGE
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of peptide science : an official publication of the European Peptide Society | Year: 2015

Immunoadhesins are engineered proteins combining the constant domain (Fc) of an antibody with a ligand-binding (adhesion) domain. They have significant potential as therapeutic agents, because they maintain the favourable pharmacokinetics of antibodies with an expanded repertoire of ligand-binding domains: proteins, peptides, or small molecules. We have recently reported that the addition of a cholesterol group to two HIV antibodies can dramatically improve their antiviral potency. Cholesterol, which can be conjugated at various positions in the antibody, including the constant (Fc) domain, endows the conjugate with affinity for the membrane lipid rafts, thus increasing its concentration at the site where viral entry occurs. Here, we extend this strategy to an HIV immunoadhesin, combining a cholesterol-conjugated Fc domain with the peptide fusion inhibitor C41. The immunoadhesin C41-Fc-chol displayed high affinity for Human Embryonic Kidney (HEK) 293 cells, and when tested on a panel of HIV-1 strains, it was considerably more potent than the unconjugated C41-Fc construct. Potentiation of antiviral activity was comparable to what was previously observed for the cholesterol-conjugated HIV antibodies. Given the key role of cholesterol in lipid raft formation and viral fusion, we expect that the same strategy should be broadly applicable to enveloped viruses, for many of which it is already known the sequence of a peptide fusion inhibitor similar to C41. Moreover, the sequence of heptad repeat-derived fusion inhibitors can often be predicted from genomic information alone, opening a path to immunoadhesins against emerging viruses.


PubMed | CEINGE Biotecnologie Avanzate S.C.R.L., University of Lisbon and PeptiPharma
Type: | Journal: Colloids and surfaces. B, Biointerfaces | Year: 2017

The HIV broadly neutralizing antibody 2F5 targets the transiently exposed epitope in the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of HIV-1 gp41, by a two-step mechanism involving the viral membrane and this viral glycoprotein. It was recently shown that 2F5 conjugation with a cholesterol moiety outside of the antibody paratope substantially increases its antiviral activity. Additionally, the antiviral activity of D5, a human antibody that binds to the N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR) of gp41 and lacks membrane binding, was boosted by the same cholesterol conjugation. In this work, we evaluated the membrane affinity of both antibodies towards membranes of different compositions, using surface plasmon resonance. A correlation was found between membrane affinity and antiviral activity against HIV-1. We propose that the conjugation of cholesterol to 2F5 or D5 allows a higher degree of antibody pre-concentration at the viral membrane. This way, the antibodies become more available to bind efficiently to the gp41 epitope, blocking viral fusion faster than the unconjugated antibody. These results set up a relevant strategy to improve the rational design of therapeutic antibodies against HIV.


PubMed | PeptiPharma
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of peptide science : an official publication of the European Peptide Society | Year: 2015

While it is now possible to identify and genetically fingerprint the causative agents of emerging viral diseases, often with extraordinary speed, suitable therapies cannot be developed with equivalent speed, because drug discovery requires information that goes beyond knowledge of the viral genome. Peptides, however, may represent a special opportunity. For all enveloped viruses, fusion between the viral and the target cell membrane is an obligatory step of the life cycle. Class I fusion proteins harbor regions with a repeating pattern of amino acids, the heptad repeats (HRs), that play a key role in fusion, and HR-derived peptides such as enfuvirtide, in clinical use for HIV, can block the process. Because of their characteristic sequence pattern, HRs are easily identified in the genome by means of computer programs, providing the sequence of candidate peptide inhibitors directly from genomic information. Moreover, a simple chemical modification, the attachment of a cholesterol group, can dramatically increase the antiviral potency of HR-derived inhibitors and simultaneously improve their pharmacokinetics. Further enhancement can be provided by dimerization of the cholesterol-conjugated peptide. The examples reported so far include inhibitors of retroviruses, paramyxoviruses, orthomyxoviruses, henipaviruses, coronaviruses, and filoviruses. For some of these viruses, in vivo efficacy has been demonstrated in suitable animal models. The combination of bioinformatic lead identification and potency/pharmacokinetics improvement provided by cholesterol conjugation may form the basis for a rapid response strategy, where development of an emergency cholesterol-conjugated therapeutic would immediately follow the availability of the genetic information of a new enveloped virus.

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