Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a member of the retroviridae family of viruses. It causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in worldwide domestic and non-domestic cats and is a cause of an important veterinary issue. The genome organization of FIV and the clinical characteristics of the disease caused by FIV are similar to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Both viruses infect T lymphocytes, monocytes, and macrophages, with a similar replication cycle in infected cells. Thus, the infection of cats with FIV is also a useful tool for the study and development of novel drugs and vaccines against HIV. Anti-retroviral drugs studied extensively with regards to HIV infection have targeted different steps of the virus replication cycle: (1) disruption of the interaction with host cell surface receptors and co-receptors; (2) inhibition of fusion of the virus and cell membranes; (3) blocking of the reverse transcription of viral genomic RNA; (4) interruption of nuclear translocation and integration of viral DNA into host genomes; (5) prevention of viral transcript processing and nuclear export; and (6) inhibition of virion assembly and maturation. Despite the great success of anti-retroviral therapy in slowing HIV progression in humans, a similar therapy has not been thoroughly investigated for FIV infection in cats, mostly because of the little structural information available for FIV proteins. The FIV capsid protein (CA) drives the assembly of the viral particle, which is a critical step in the viral replication cycle. During this step, the CA protein oligomerizes to form a protective coat that surrounds the viral genome. In this work, we perform a large-scale screening of four hundred molecules from our in-house library using an in vitro assembly assay of p24, combined with microscale thermophoresis, to estimate binding affinity. This screening led to the discovery of around four novel hits that inhibited capsid assembly in vitro. These may provide new antiviral drugs against FIV.
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