The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology vol:36 issue:9 pages:1848-59
GPG-NH2 and G-NH2 are highly selective antiretroviral agents in cell culture, and both compounds inhibit HIV replication in CEM cell cultures to an equal extent (50% effective concentration: approximately 30 microM). The lymphocyte surface glycoprotein marker CD26, which is identical to dipeptidyl peptidase IV, efficiently converted GPG-NH2 to G-NH2 releasing the dipeptide GP-OH. The closely related QPG-NH2 derivative was also inhibitory to HIV, presumably by the dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP IV)-catalyzed release of G-NH2. In contrast, the cyclic pQPG-NH2 derivative in which the glutamine at the amino terminal position of QPG-NH2 was replaced by pyroglutamine and which is resistant to cleavage by purified CD26, was devoid of antiviral activity. CD26 is abundantly expressed on a variety of HIV target cells and is also present in serum of bovine, murine and human origin. The CD26/DPP IV enzymatic activity in serum and in cell suspensions could be efficiently inhibited by the CD26/DPP IV inhibitor L-isoleucinepyrrolidine (IlePyr) with 50% inhibitory concentrations ranging between 20 and 100 microM. When combined in HIV-1-infected cell cultures, IlePyr and Diprotin A (DP-A), another CD26/DPP IV inhibitor, abrogated the antiviral activity of GPG-NH2 but not of G-NH2. Therefore, it was concluded that the anti-HIV drug GPG-NH2 is not active as such, but rather behaves as a prodrug that must be obligatorily cleaved by CD26/DPP IV to G-NH2 to exert its antiretroviral activity. This is the first demonstration of a lymphocyte activation/differentiation marker (i.e. CD26) that plays a direct regulatory and indispensable role in the eventual antiretroviral activity of small synthetic molecules such as the antiretroviral (pro)drug GPG-NH2.