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HIV-1 protease with 10 lopinavir and darunavir resistance mutations exhibits altered inhibition, structural rearrangements and extreme dynamics

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Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling
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Antiretroviral drug resistance is a therapeutic obstacle for people with HIV. HIV protease inhibitors darunavir and lopinavir are recommended for resistant infections. We characterized a protease mutant (PR10x) derived from a highly resistant clinical isolate including 10 mutations associated with resistance to lopinavir and darunavir. Compared to the wild-type protease, PR10x exhibits ∼3-fold decrease in catalytic efficiency and Ki values of 2–3 orders of magnitude worse for darunavir, lopinavir, and potent investigational inhibitor GRL-519. Crystal structures of the mutant were solved in a ligand-free form and in complex with GRL-519. The structures show altered interactions in the active site, flap-core interface, hydrophobic core, hinge region, and 80s loop compared to the corresponding wild-type protease structures. The ligand-free crystal structure exhibits a highly curled flap conformation which may amplify drug resistance. Molecular dynamics simulations performed for 1 μs on ligand-free dimers showed extremely large fluctuations in the flaps for PR10x compared to equivalent simulations on PR with a single L76V mutation or wild-type protease. This analysis offers insight about the synergistic effects of mutations in highly resistant variants.