Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, United States; Department of Dermatology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, United States. Electronic address: [Email]
Ribosomal frameshifting, a process whereby a translating ribosome is diverted from one reading frame to another on a contiguous mRNA, is an important regulatory mechanism in biology and an opportunity for therapeutic intervention in several human diseases. In HIV, ribosomal frameshifting controls the ratio of Gag and Gag-Pol, two polyproteins critical to the HIV life cycle. We have previously reported compounds able to selectively bind an RNA stemloop within the Gag-Pol mRNA; these compounds alter the production of Gag-Pol in a manner consistent with increased frameshifting. Importantly, they also display antiretroviral activity in human T-cells. Here, we describe new compounds with significantly reduced molecular weight, but with substantially maintained affinity and anti-HIV activity. These results suggest that development of more "ligand efficient" enhancers of ribosomal frameshifting is an achievable goal.