A novel cell-based high-throughput screen for inhibitors of HIV-1 gene expression and budding identifies the cardiac glycosides

Gregory M. Laird, Evelyn E. Eisele, S. Alireza Rabi, Daria Nikolaeva, Robert F. Siliciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is the mainstay of treatment for HIV-1 infection. While current HAART regimens have been extremely effective, issues of associated toxicity, cost and resistance remain and there is a need for novel antiretroviral compounds to complement the existing therapy. We sought to develop a novel high-throughput method for identifying compounds that block later steps in the life cycle not targeted by current therapy. Methods: We designed a high-throughput screen to identify inhibitors of post-integration steps in the HIV-1 life cycle. The screening method was applied to a library of compounds that included numerous FDA-approved small molecules. Results: Among the small molecules that inhibited late stages in HIV-1 replication were members of the cardiac glycoside family. We demonstrate that cardiac glycosides potently inhibit HIV-1 gene expression, thereby reducing the production of infectious HIV-1. We demonstrate that this inhibition is dependent upon the human Na. +/K. +-ATPase, but independent of cardiac glycoside-induced increases in intracellular Ca. 2+. Conclusions: We have validated a novel high-throughput screen to identify small molecule inhibitors of HIV-1 gene expression, virion assembly and budding. Using this screen, we have demonstrated that a number of FDA-approved compounds developed for other purposes potently inhibit HIV-1 replication, including the cardiac glycosides. Our work indicates that the entire cardiac glycoside family of drugs shows potential for antiretroviral drug development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdkt471
Pages (from-to)988-994
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Antiretroviral
  • Digoxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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