Synergistic reduction of HIV-1 infectivity by 5-azacytidine and inhibitors of ribonucleotide reductase

Jonathan M.O. Rawson, Megan E. Roth, Jiashu Xie, Michele B. Daly, Christine L. Clouser, Sean R. Landman, Cavan S. Reilly, Laurent Bonnac, Baek Kim, Steven E. Patterson, Louis M. Mansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2410-2422
Number of pages13
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd.


  • 5-Azacytidine
  • Drug synergy
  • Error catastrophe
  • HIV-1
  • Lethal mutagenesis
  • Resveratrol
  • Retrovirus
  • Viral mutagenesis


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