Computational chemistry studies of subtypes B and South African C HIV proteases.
Sanusi, Zainab Kemi.
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HIV/AIDs is a prevalent disease infecting millions of people throughout the world. Although a lot of improvement has been achieved over the year in regard to the reduction of AIDs related deaths, a huge task lies ahead as the HIV/AIDs global epidemic keeps spreading annually. It is therefore paramount to discover and develop more and efficient drug inhibitors against HIV. The HIV protease (HIV PR) is a C2-symmentric homodimer and consisting of 99-amino acids in each monomer and because of the important role it plays in the HIV mutation, it became a major HIV drug target for the past three decades. It is on this basis that various effective antiretroviral protease inhibitors have been designed and approved for application in HIV therapy.The HIV subtype B strain is prominent in Europe and North America and is the most researched virus. The majority of the antiretroviral drugs were designed and tested against HIV subtype B. However, non-subtype B strains of the HIV virus makes up most of these infections in Southern and Eastern Africa, which are highly affected regions in the world. In South Africa, subtype C HIV-1 is the dominant strain and little research has been done regarding drug design for this subtype or testing of the effectiveness of the HIV approved antiretroviral drugs against these non-subtype B strains. Two potentially devastating mutations of subtype C-SA HIV PR were recently reported by our group. These were designated I36T↑T and L38L↑N↑L HIV PR. The I36T↑T PR mutant includes an extra amino acid, the mutation occurs at position 36 (isoleucine to threonine) and is followed by an insertion at the second threonine indicated by the upward arrow. The L38L↑N↑L PR mutant involves two amino acids insertions that is completely different from the usual 99-amino acids HIV PR, as well as five point mutations occur at the E35D, I36G, N37S, M46L and D60E. The two insertions occur at position 38 (asparagine and leucine) indicated by the two upward arrows. Therefore, the I36T↑T and L38L↑N↑L mutations consist of 100 and 101-amino acids in each monomer of the proteases respectively.In this thesis, a hybrid computational model (QM: MM) using the ONIOM approach was followed. The selected FDA inhibitors were complexed with the various proteases in the active pocket interacting with Asp 25/25' catalytic residues using the same pose in the subtype B PR as a reference X-ray structure. The HIV PR inhibitors and Asp 25/25' were treated at a high-level with quantum mechanics (QM) theory using B3LYP/6-31G(d), and the remaining HIV PR residues were considered at a low layer using molecular mechanics (MM) with the AMBER force field. This method was applied to calculate the binding free interaction energies of the selected FDA approved HIV PR drugs complexed to the HIV protease enzyme. The aim was to create and test this computational model that will reflect the experimental binding energies against subtype B, C-SA HIV PR and also a mutant from the subtype C-SA PR designated L38L↑N↑L HIV PR. The calculated binding free interaction energies results from the subtype B follow a satisfactory trend with the experimental data. However, the C-SA HIV PR inhibitor―enzyme complexes showed some discrepancies and this was ascribed to the simplified computational model that omitted water in the active site of the enzyme. The calculated binding free interaction energies for L38L↑N↑L PR as well as experimental results, showed reduced binding affinities for all the selected FDA approved inhibitors in comparison with the subtype C-SA HIV PR. The deviation could be as a result of the insertion and mutation of the subtype C HIV-1 PR that is expected to have a significant effect in altering either the binding affinity of the HIV PR inhibitors and or characteristics of the parent protease. The computational model used in this research will be improved by introducing water into the active pocket of the Asp 25/25' catalytic residues that will be treated at least at semi-empirical level. Optimization of the different ONIOM levels will be attempted in order to accurately predict activities of new potential HIV PR inhibitors.