The antiherpetic drug acyclovir inhibits HIV replication and selects the V75I reverse transcriptase multidrug resistance mutation

Moira A. McMahon, Janet D. Siliciano, Jun Lai, Jun O. Liu, James T. Stivers, Robert F. Siliciano, Rahul M. Kohli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The antiviral drug acyclovir is a guanosine nucleoside analog that potently inhibits herpes simplex virus (HSV) replication. Acyclovir treatment in patients coinfected with HSV and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been observed to alter disease course and decrease HIV viral load, a finding that has been attributed to indirect effects of HSV suppression on HIV replication. Based on this hypothesis, several clinical studies have recently investigated the use of acyclovir for treatment of patients coinfected with HSV and HIV or for prophylaxis against HIV transmission. In this report, we use a single round HIV infectivity assay to show that acyclovir directly inhibits HIV infection with an IC50 of ∼5 μM. The target of acyclovir in HIV-infected cells is validated as HIV reverse transcriptase (RT) by the emergence of the RT variant V75I under the selective pressure of acyclovir. The V75I mutation is part of the multidrug resistance pathway that enhances viral resistance to many of the best RT inhibitors approved for the treatment of HIV. Biochemical analyses demonstrate that acyclovir triphosphate is a chain terminator substrate for HIV RT and can compete with dGTP for incorporation into DNA. Although acyclovir may prove a useful lead for development of new HIV treatments, the selection of resistant mutants raises a cautionary note to the use of acyclovir monotherapy in patients coinfected with HSV and HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31289-31293
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume283
Issue number46
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 14 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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