Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) possesses two distinct enzymatic activities: those of RNA- and DNA-dependent DNA polymerases and RNase H. In the current HIV-1 therapy, all HIV-1 RT inhibitors inhibit the activity of DNA polymerase, but not that of RNase H. We previously reported that ethanol and water extracts of Brasenia schreberi (Junsai) inhibited the DNA polymerase activity of HIV-1 RT [Hisayoshi et al. (2014) J Biol Macromol 14:59-65]. In this study, we screened 43 edible plants and found that ethanol and water extracts of Brasenia schreberi and water extract of Petasites japonicus strongly inhibit not only the activity of DNA polymerase to incorporate dTTP into poly(rA)-p(dT)15 but also the activity of RNase H to hydrolyze the RNA strand of an RNA/DNA hybrid. In addition, these three extracts inhibit HIV-1 replication in human cells, with EC50 values of 1-2 μg/ml. These results suggest that Brasenia schreberi and Petasites japonicus contain substances that block HIV-1 replication by inhibiting the DNA polymerase activity and/or RNase H activity of HIV-1 RT.
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