The ability of the HIV-1 accessory proteins Nef and Vpu to decrease CD4 levels contributes to the protection of infected cells from antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) by preventing the exposure of Env vulnerable epitopes. Small-molecule CD4 mimetics (CD4mc) based on the indane and piperidine scaffolds such as (+)-BNM-III-170 and (S)-MCG-IV-210 sensitize HIV-1-infected cells to ADCC by exposing CD4-induced (CD4i) epitopes recognized by non-neutralizing antibodies that are abundantly present in plasma from people living with HIV. Here, we characterize a new family of CD4mc, (S)-MCG-IV-210 derivatives, based on the piperidine scaffold which engages the gp120 within the Phe43 cavity by targeting the highly conserved Asp368 Env residue. We utilized structure-based approaches and developed a series of piperidine analogs with improved activity to inhibit the infection of difficult-to-neutralize tier-2 viruses and sensitize infected cells to ADCC mediated by HIV+ plasma. Moreover, the new analogs formed an H-bond with the α-carboxylic acid group of Asp368, opening a new avenue to enlarge the breadth of this family of anti-Env small molecules. Overall, the new structural and biological attributes of these molecules make them good candidates for strategies aimed at the elimination of HIV-1-infected cells.
- Phe43 cavity
- antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC)
- envelope glycoproteins
- small CD4 mimetic compounds (CD4mc)