Quinolones represent an important class of broad-spectrum antibacterials, the main structural features of which are a 1,4 dihydro-4-oxo-quinolinyl moiety bearing an essential carboxyl group at position 3. Quinolones inhibit prokaryotic type II topoisomerases, namely DNA gyrase and, in a few cases, topoisomerase IV, through direct binding to the bacterial chromosome. Based on the hypothesis that these drugs could also bind to the viral nucleic acids or nucleoprotein-complexes, several quinolone derivatives were tested for their antiviral activity. Indeed, antibacterial fluoroquinolones were shown to be effective against vaccinia virus and papovaviruses; these preliminary results prompted the synthesis of modified quinolones to optimize antiviral action and improve selectivity index. The introduction of an aryl group at the piperazine moiety of the fluoroquinolone shifted the activity from antibacterial to antiviral, with a specific action against HIV. The antiviral activity seemed to be related to an inhibitory effect at the transcriptional level, and further evidence suggested a mechanism of action mediated by inhibition of Tat functions. Substitution of the fluorine at position 6 with an amine group to give aryl-piperazinyl-6-amino-quinolones improved the activity and selectivity against HIV-1: the most potent compound of this series was shown to inhibit virus replication through interference with Tat-TAR interaction. A comprehensive SAR investigation was performed based on additional chemical intervention to the quinolone template moiety, such as the introduction of nucleoside derivative functions. The information gained so far will be useful for future rational drug design aimed at developing new compounds with optimized antiviral activity.
Keywords: quinolone, drug, antiviral, hiv, tar, tat
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