Covalent linkage of myristate (tetradecanoate; 14:0) to the NH2-terminal glycine residue of the human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) 55-kDa gag polyprotein precursor (Pr55gag) is necessary for its proteolytic processing and viral assembly. We have shown recently that several analogs of myristate in which a methylene group is replaced by a single oxygen or sulfur atom are substrates for Saccharomyces cerevisiae and mammalian myristoyl-CoA:protein N-myristoyltransferase (EC; NMT) despite their reduced hydrophobicity. Some inhibit HIV-1 replication in acutely infected CD4+ H9 cells without accompanying cellular toxicity. To examine the mechanism of their antiviral effects, we performed labeling studies with two analogs, 12-methoxydodecanoate (13-oxamyristate; 13-OxaMyr) and 5-octyloxypentanoate (6-oxamyristate; 6-OxaMyr), the former being much more effective than the latter in blocking virus production. [3H]Myristate and [3H]13-OxaMyr were incorporated into Pr55gag with comparable efficiency when it was coexpressed with S. cerevisiae NMT in Escherichia coli. [3H]6-OxaMyr was not incorporated, even though its substrate properties in vitro were similar to those of 13-OxaMyr and myristate. [3H]13-OxaMyr, but not [3H]6-OxaMyr, was also efficiently incorporated into HIV-1 Pr55gag and nef (negative factor) in chronically infected H9 cells. Analog incorporation produced a redistribution of Pr55gag from membrane to cytosolic fractions and markedly decreased its proteolytic processing by viral protease. 13-OxaMyr and 3′-azido-3′-deoxythymidine (AZT) act synergistically to reduce virus production in acutely infected H9 cells. Unlike AZT, the analog is able to inhibit virus production (up to 70%) in chronically infected H9 cells. Moreover, the inhibitory effect lasts 6-8 days. These results suggest that (i) its mechanism of action is distinct from that of AZT and involves a late step in virus assembly; (ii) the analog may allow reduction in the dose of AZT required to affect viral replication; and (iii) combinations of analog and HIV-1 protease inhibitors may have synergistic effects on the processing of Pr55gag.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2055-2059
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991


  • AIDS
  • Fatty acid analogs
  • Protein n-myristovlation


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