Although many compounds have been approved for the treatment of human immunodeficiency type-1 (HIV-1) infection, additional anti-HIV-1 drugs (particularly those belonging to new drug classes) are still needed due to issues such as long-term drug-associated toxicities, transmission of drug-resistant variants, and development of multi-class resistance. Lethal mutagenesis represents an antiviral strategy that has not yet been clinically translated for HIV-1 and is based on the use of small molecules to induce excessive levels of deleterious mutations within the viral genome. Here, we show that 5-azacytidine (5-aza-C), a ribonucleoside analog that induces the lethal mutagenesis of HIV-1, and multiple inhibitors of the enzyme ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) interact in a synergistic fashion to more effectively reduce the infectivity of HIV-1. In these drug combinations, RNR inhibitors failed to significantly inhibit the conversion of 5-aza-C to 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine, suggesting that 5-aza-C acts primarily as a deoxyribonucleoside even in the presence of RNR inhibitors. The mechanism of antiviral synergy was further investigated for the combination of 5-aza-C and one specific RNR inhibitor, resveratrol, as this combination improved the selectivity index of 5-aza-C to the greatest extent. Antiviral synergy was found to be primarily due to the reduced accumulation of reverse transcription products rather than the enhancement of viral mutagenesis. To our knowledge, these observations represent the first demonstration of antiretroviral synergy between a ribonucleoside analog and RNR inhibitors, and encourage the development of additional ribonucleoside analogs and RNR inhibitors with improved antiretroviral activity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health [ R01 GM105876 to L.M., T32 AI83196 to J.R., F31 DA035720 to J.R.] and fellowships [to J.R. and S.L.] from the University of Minnesota Graduate School. We are grateful to the staff of the University of Minnesota Genomics Center for helpful advice in the design, performance, and analysis of Illumina sequencing experiments. We also thank the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute for providing computing, software, and data storage support for this project.
- Drug synergy
- Error catastrophe
- Lethal mutagenesis
- Viral mutagenesis