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Molecular modeling studies on HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase (RT) and Heat shock protein (Hsp) 90 as a potential anti-HIV-1 target.

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is the leading cause of death globally. This dissertation addresses two HIV-1 target proteins namely, HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase (RT) and Heat shock protein (Hsp) 90. More specifically for HIV-1 RT, a case study for the identification of potential inhibitors as anti-HIV agents was carried out. A more refined virtual screening (VS) approach was implemented, which was an improvement on work previously published by our group- “target-bound pharmacophore modeling approach”. This study generated a pharmacophore library based only on highly contributing amino acid residues (HCAAR), instead of arbitrary pharmacophores, most commonly used in the conventional approaches in literature. HCAAR were distinguished based on free binding energy (FBE) contributions, obtained using calculation from molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Previous approaches have relied on the docking score (DS) to generate energy-based pharmacophore models. However, DS are reportedly unreliable. Thus we present a model for a per-residue energy decomposition (PRED), constructed from MD simulation ensembles generating a more trustworthy pharmacophore model which can be applied in drug discovery workflow. This approach was employed in screening for potential HIV-1 RT inhibitors using the pharmacophoric features of the compound GSK952. The complex was subjected to docking and thereafter MD simulations confirmed the stability of the system. Experimentally determined inhibitors with known HIV-RT inhibitory activity were used to validate the proposed protocol. Two potential hits ZINC46849657 and ZINC54359621 showed a significant potential with regards to FBE. Reported results obtained from this work confirm that this new approach is favourable to the future of drug design process. Hsp90 was recently discovered to play a vital role in HIV-1 replication. Thus has emerged, as a promising target for anti-HIV-1 drugs. The molecular mechanism of Hsp90 is poorly understood, thus the second study was aimed to address this issue and provide a clear insight to the inhibition mechanism of Hsp90. Reasonable continuous MD simulations were employed for both unbound and bound Hsp90 conformations, to understand the dimerization and inhibition mechanisms. Results demonstrated that coumermycin A1 (C-A1), a newly discovered Hsp90 inhibitor, binds at the CTD dimer of Hsp90 and lead to a significant separation between orthogonally opposed residues, such as Arg591.B, Lys594.A, Ser663.A, Thr653.B, Ala665.A, Thr649.B, Leu646.B and Asn669A. A Large difference in magnitudes was observed in the radius of gyration (Rg), per-residue fluctuation, root-mean-square deviation (RMSD) and root-mean-square fluctuation (RMSF) confirming a completely more flexible state for the unbound conformation associated with dimerization. Whereas, a less globally correlated motion in the case of the bound conformer of Hsp90 approved a reduction of the dimeric process. This undoubtedly underlines the inhibition process due to ligand binding. The detailed dynamic analyses of Hsp90 presented herein are believed to give a greater insight and understanding to the function and mechanisms of inhibition of Hsp90. The report on the inhibitor-binding mode would also be of great assistance in the design of prospective inhibitors against Hsp90 as potential HIV target.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.