Dissertation Defense Announcement
To:  The George Mason University Community

Candidate: Fei Yi

Program: PhD in Biosciences

Date:   Wednesday April 20, 2016

Time:   2:00 PM
Place:  George Mason University
             Science & Tech (Prince William) Campus<>
            Bull Run Hall, Room 257

Title: "The Roles of LIM Kinase (LIMK) Inhibitors in the Regulation of Actin Dynamics During HIV-1 Infection"
Committee Chair: Dr. Yuntao Wu
Committee Members:  Dr. Tshaka Cunningham, Jia Guo, Dr. Ramin M Hakami, Dr. Kylene Kehn-Hall
A copy of the dissertation is available in the Gateway Library.  All are invited to attend the defense.
A dynamic actin cytoskeleton is necessary for viral entry, intracellular migration, and virion release. For HIV-1 infection, during viral entry, the virus triggers early actin activity through hijacking chemokine coreceptor signaling which activates a viral dependency host factor cofilin and its kinase, the LIM domain kinase (LIMK). Although knockdown of human LIMK1 with siRNA inhibits HIV infection, no specific small molecule inhibitor of LIMK is available. Here we describe the design and discovery of novel classes of small molecule inhibitors of LIMK for inhibiting HIV infection. We identified R10015 as a lead compound that blocks LIMK kinase activity by binding to the ATP-binding pocket. R10015 specifically blocks viral DNA synthesis, nuclear migration, and virion release. In addition, R10015 inhibits multiple viruses including EBOV, RVFV, VEEV, and HSV-1, suggesting that LIMK inhibitors could be developed as a new class of broad-spectrum anti-viral drugs.