R4.0, a synthetic CCL5/RANTES-derived peptide, exerts potent anti-HIV-1 activity via its nonactivating interaction with CCR5, the major HIV-1 coreceptor. CCR5 chronic activation may promote undesirable inflammatory effects and enhance viral infection; thus, receptor antagonism is a necessary requisite. HIV-1 gp120, CCL5, and maraviroc dock on CCR5 by sharing two receptor sites: the N terminus and the second extracellular loop. In combination studies, R4.0, CCL5, and maraviroc exhibited concomitant interactions with CCR5 and promoted synergic inhibition of HIV-1 in acute-infection assays. Furthermore, various degrees of additive/synergic HIV-1 inhibition were observed when R4.0 was tested in combination with drugs and lead compounds directed toward different viral targets (gp120, gp41, reverse transcriptase, and protease). In combination with tenofovir, R4.0 provides cross-clade synergic inhibition of primary HIV-1 isolates. Remarkably, an in vitro-generated maraviroc-resistant R5 HIV-1 strain was inhibited by R4.0 comparably to the wild-type strain, suggesting the presence of viral resistance barriers similar to those reported for CCL5. Overall, R4.0 appears to be a promising lead peptide with potential for combination in anti- HIV-1 therapy and in microbicide development to prevent sexual HIV-1 transmission. Copyright
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