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Chemical Biology

Grifonin-1: A Small HIV-1 Entry Inhibitor Derived from the Algal Lectin, Griffithsin
Published: Thursday, December 16, 2010
Author: Ewa D. Micewicz et al.

by Ewa D. Micewicz, Amy L. Cole, Chun-Ling Jung, Hai Luong, Martin L. Phillips, Pratikhya Pratikhya, Shantanu Sharma, Alan J. Waring, Alexander M. Cole, Piotr Ruchala


Griffithsin, a 121-residue protein isolated from a red algal Griffithsia sp., binds high mannose N-linked glycans of virus surface glycoproteins with extremely high affinity, a property that allows it to prevent the entry of primary isolates and laboratory strains of T- and M-tropic HIV-1. We used the sequence of a portion of griffithsin's sequence as a design template to create smaller peptides with antiviral and carbohydrate-binding properties.


The new peptides derived from a trio of homologous ß-sheet repeats that comprise the motifs responsible for its biological activity. Our most active antiviral peptide, grifonin-1 (GRFN-1), had an EC50 of 190.8±11.0 nM in in vitro TZM-bl assays and an EC50 of 546.6±66.1 nM in p24gag antigen release assays. GRFN-1 showed considerable structural plasticity, assuming different conformations in solvents that differed in polarity and hydrophobicity. Higher concentrations of GRFN-1 formed oligomers, based on intermolecular ß-sheet interactions. Like its parent protein, GRFN-1 bound viral glycoproteins gp41 and gp120 via the N-linked glycans on their surface.


Its substantial antiviral activity and low toxicity in vitro suggest that GRFN-1 and/or its derivatives may have therapeutic potential as topical and/or systemic agents directed against HIV-1.