- Flavopiridol (L86-8275, HMR1275) is a cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) inhibitor that is in clinical trials as a cancer treatment because of its antiproliferative properties. We found that the flavonoid potently inhibited transcription by RNA polymerase II in vitro by blocking the transition into productive elongation, a step controlled by P-TEFb. The ability of P-TEFb to phosphorylate the carboxyl-terminal domain of the large subunit of RNA polymerase II was inhibited by flavopiridol with aK i of 3 nm. Interestingly, the drug was not competitive with ATP. P-TEFb composed of Cdk9 and cyclin T1 is a required cellular cofactor for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) transactivator, Tat. Consistent with its ability to inhibit P-TEFb, flavopiridol blocked Tat transactivation of the viral promoter in vitro. Furthermore, flavopiridol blocked HIV-1 replication in both single-round and viral spread assays with an IC50 of less than 10 nm.