The ingenol-based protein kinase C agonist GSK445A is a potent inducer of HIV and SIV RNA transcription

Afam A. Okoye, Rémi Fromentin, Hiroshi Takata, Jessica H. Brehm, Yoshinori Fukazawa, Bryan Randall, Marion Pardons, Vincent Tai, Jun Tang, Jeremy Smedley, Michael Axthelm, Jeffrey D. Lifson, Louis J. Picker, Dav Favre, Lydie Trautmann, Nicolas Chomont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Activation of the NF-κB signaling pathway by Protein Kinase C (PKC) agonists is a potent mechanism for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) latency disruption in vitro. However, significant toxicity risks and the lack of evidence supporting their activity in vivo have limited further evaluation of PKC agonists as HIV latency-reversing agents (LRA) in cure strategies. Here we evaluated whether GSK445A, a stabilized ingenol-B derivative, can induce HIV/ simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) transcription and virus production in vitro and demonstrate pharmacological activity in nonhuman primates (NHP). CD4+ T cells from people living with HIV and from SIV+ rhesus macaques (RM) on antiretroviral therapy (ART) exposed in vitro to 25 nM of GSK445A produced cell-associated viral transcripts as well as viral particles at levels similar to those induced by PMA/Ionomycin, indicating that GSK445A can potently reverse HIV/SIV latency. Importantly, these concentrations of GSK445A did not impair the proliferation or survival of HIV-specific CD8+ T cells, but instead, increased their numbers and enhanced IFN-γ production in response to HIV peptides. In vivo, GSK445A tolerability was established in SIV-naïve RM at 15 μg/kg although tolerability was reduced in SIV-infected RM on ART. Increases in plasma viremia following GSK445A administration were suggestive of increased SIV transcription in vivo. Collectively, these results indicate that GSK445A is a potent HIV/SIV LRA in vitro and has a tolerable safety profile amenable for further evaluation in vivo in NHP models of HIV cure/remission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1010245
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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