The binding energetics of first- and second-generation HIV-1 protease inhibitors: Implications for drug design

Adrian Velazquez-Campoy, Yoshiaki Kiso, Ernesto Freire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


KNI-764 is a powerful HIV-1 protease inhibitor with a reported low susceptibility to the effects of protease mutations commonly associated with drug resistance. In this paper the binding thermodynamics of KNI-764 to the wild-type and drug-resistant mutant V82F/I84V are presented and the results compared to those obtained with existing clinical inhibitors. KNI-764 binds to the wild-type HIV-1 protease with very high affinity (3.1 × 1010 M-1 or 32 pM) in a process strongly favored by both enthalpic and entropic contributions to the Gibbs energy of binding (ΔG = -RTlnKa). When compared to existing clinical inhibitors, the binding affinity of KNI-764 is about 100 fold higher than that of indinavir, saquinavir, and nelfinavir, but comparable to that of ritonavir. Unlike the existing clinical inhibitors, which bind to the protease with unfavorable or only slightly favorable enthalpy changes, the binding of KNI-764 is strongly exothermic (-7.6 kcal/mol). The resistant mutation V82F/I84V lowers the binding affinity of KNI-764 26-fold, which can be accounted almost entirely by a less favorable binding enthalpy to the mutant. Since KNI-764 binds to the wild type with extremely high affinity, even after a 26-fold decrease, it still binds to the resistant mutant with an affinity comparable to that of other inhibitors against the wild type. These results indicate that the effectiveness of this inhibitor against the resistant mutant is related to two factors: extremely high affinity against the wild type achieved by combining favorable enthalpic and entropic interactions, and a mild effect of the protease mutation due to the presence of flexible structural elements at critical locations in the inhibitor molecule. The conclusions derived from the HIV-1 protease provide important thermodynamic guidelines that can be implemented in general drug design strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 15 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'The binding energetics of first- and second-generation HIV-1 protease inhibitors: Implications for drug design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this