Enhanced Diagnostic Tools
Several different segments of the gp41 N-heptad repeat coiled coil have been constructed using N-terminal bipyridyl modification of composite peptides and inducing trimerization by adding ferrous ions. These metallopeptides act as receptors in fluorescence-binding assays with apposing fluorescently labeled C-peptide probes. The FeII coordination complex quenches C-peptide fluorescence upon binding, and reversal of quenching by a small molecule inhibitor can be used to obtain the inhibitor-binding constant. A total of 10 peptide pairs targeting 25–46 residue segments of the coiled coil were constructed, with C-peptide probes of different lengths and binding affinities. The result is a suite of assays for exploring binding in the mM to nM range to any desired region of the coiled coil, including the hydrophobic pocket (HP), extended regions on either side of the pocket, or a region associated with T20 resistance mutations. These assays are high-throughput ready, and could be used to discover novel compounds binding along various regions of the gp41 coiled coil groove. They were used to evaluate a sub-lM low molecular weight fusion inhibitor, resulting in the finding that the molecule bound specifically to the HP and attained its potency from a low off-rate.
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