2012 Volume 60 Issue 6 Pages 764-771
Reverse transcriptase of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has two enzymatic functions. One of the functions is ribonuclease (RNase) H activity concerning the digestion of only RNA of RNA/DNA hybrid. The RNase H activity is an attractive target for a new class of anti-HIV drugs because no approved inhibitor is available now. In our previous studies, an agent bearing 5-nitro-furan-2-carboxylic acid ester core was found from chemical screening and dozens of the derivatives were synthesized to improve compound potency. In this work, some parts of the chemical structure were modulated to deepen our understanding of the structure–activity relationship of the analogous compounds. Several derivatives having nitro-furan-phenyl-ester skeleton were shown to be potent RNase H inhibitors. Attaching methoxy-carbonyl and methoxy groups to the phenyl ring increased the inhibitory potency. No significant cytotoxicity was observed for these active derivatives. In contrast, the derivatives having nitro-furan-benzyl-ester skeleton showed modest inhibitory activities regardless of attaching diverse kinds of functional groups to the benzyl ring. Both the modulation of the 5-nitro-furan-2-carboxylic moiety and the conversion of the ester linkage resulted in a drastic decrease in inhibitory potency. These findings are informative for designing potent inhibitors of RNase H enzymatic activity of HIV-1.