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1.  A Novel, Broad-Spectrum Inhibitor of Enterovirus Replication That Targets Host Cell Factor Phosphatidylinositol 4-Kinase IIIβ 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2013;57(10):4971-4981.
Despite their high clinical and socioeconomic impacts, there is currently no approved antiviral therapy for the prophylaxis or treatment of enterovirus infections. Here we report on a novel inhibitor of enterovirus replication, compound 1, 2-fluoro-4-(2-methyl-8-(3-(methylsulfonyl)benzylamino)imidazo[1,2-a]pyrazin-3-yl)phenol. This compound exhibited a broad spectrum of antiviral activity, as it inhibited all tested species of enteroviruses and rhinoviruses, with 50% effective concentrations ranging between 4 and 71 nM. After a lengthy resistance selection process, coxsackievirus mutants resistant to compound 1 were isolated that carried substitutions in their 3A protein. Remarkably, the same substitutions were recently shown to provide resistance to inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase IIIβ (PI4KIIIβ), a lipid kinase that is essential for enterovirus replication, suggesting that compound 1 may also target this host factor. Accordingly, compound 1 directly inhibited PI4KIIIβ in an in vitro kinase activity assay. Furthermore, the compound strongly reduced the PI 4-phosphate levels of the Golgi complex in cells. Rescue of coxsackievirus replication in the presence of compound 1 by a mutant PI4KIIIβ carrying a substitution in its ATP-binding pocket revealed that the compound directly binds the kinase at this site. Finally, we determined that an analogue of compound 1, 3-(3-fluoro-4-methoxyphenyl)-2-methyl-N-(pyridin-4-ylmethyl)imidazo[1,2-a]pyrazin-8-amine, is well tolerated in mice and has a dose-dependent protective activity in a coxsackievirus serotype B4-induced pancreatitis model.
PMCID: PMC3811463  PMID: 23896472
2.  Structure-based discovery of pyrazolobenzothiazine derivatives as inhibitors of hepatitis C virus replication 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(6):2270-2282.
The NS5B RNA-dependent RNA polymerase is an attractive target for the development of novel and selective inhibitors of hepatitis C virus replication. In order to identify novel structural hits as anti-HCV agents, we performed structure-based virtual screening of our in-house library followed by rational drug design, organic synthesis and biological testing. These studies led to the identification of pyrazolobenzothiazine scaffold as a suitable template for obtaining novel anti-HCV agents targeting the NS5B polymerase. The best compound of this series was the meta-fluoro-N-1-phenyl pyrazolobenzothiazine derivative 4a, which exhibited an EC50= 3.6 µM, EC90= 25.6 µM and CC50 > 180 µM in the Huh 9–13 replicon system, thus providing a good starting point for further hit evolution.
PMCID: PMC3627225  PMID: 23409936
Hepatitis C virus; RNA-dependent RNA polymerase; structure-based drug discovery; virtual screening; NS5B inhibitors; pyrazolobenzothiazines
3.  Phosphatidylinositol 4-Kinase III Beta Is Essential for Replication of Human Rhinovirus and Its Inhibition Causes a Lethal Phenotype In Vivo 
Human rhinovirus (HRV) is the predominant cause of the common cold, but more importantly, infection may have serious repercussions in asthmatics and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) patients. A cell-based antiviral screen against HRV was performed with a subset of our proprietary compound collection, and an aminothiazole series with pan-HRV species and enteroviral activity was identified. The series was found to act at the level of replication in the HRV infectious cycle. In vitro selection and sequencing of aminothiazole series-resistant HRV variants revealed a single-nucleotide mutation leading to the amino acid change I42V in the essential HRV 3A protein. This same mutation has been previously implicated in resistance to enviroxime, a former clinical-stage antipicornavirus agent. Enviroxime-like compounds have recently been shown to target the lipid kinase phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase III beta (PI4KIIIβ). A good correlation between PI4KIIIβ activity and HRV antiviral potency was found when analyzing the data over 80 compounds of the aminothiazole series, covering a 750-fold potency range. The mechanism of action through PI4KIIIβ inhibition was further demonstrated by small interfering RNA (siRNA) knockdown of PI4KB, which reduced HRV replication and also increased the potency of the PI4KIIIβ inhibitors. Inhibitors from two different structural classes with promising pharmacokinetic profiles and with very good selectivity for PI4KIIIβ were used to dissociate compound-related toxicity from target-related toxicity. Mortality was seen in all dosing groups of mice treated with either compound, therefore suggesting that short-term inhibition of PI4KIIIβ is deleterious.
PMCID: PMC3697394  PMID: 23650168
4.  Artemisinin Analogues as Potent Inhibitors of In Vitro Hepatitis C Virus Replication 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81783.
We reported previously that Artemisinin (ART), a widely used anti-malarial drug, is an inhibitor of in vitro HCV subgenomic replicon replication. We here demonstrate that ART exerts its antiviral activity also in hepatoma cells infected with full length infectious HCV JFH-1. We identified a number of ART analogues that are up to 10-fold more potent and selective as in vitro inhibitors of HCV replication than ART. The iron donor Hemin only marginally potentiates the anti-HCV activity of ART in HCV-infected cultures. Carbon-centered radicals have been shown to be critical for the anti-malarial activity of ART. We demonstrate that carbon-centered radicals-trapping (the so-called TEMPO) compounds only marginally affect the anti-HCV activity of ART. This provides evidence that carbon-centered radicals are not the main effectors of the anti-HCV activity of the Artemisinin. ART and analogues may possibly exert their anti-HCV activity by the induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The combined anti-HCV activity of ART or its analogues with L-N-Acetylcysteine (L-NAC) [a molecule that inhibits ROS generation] was studied. L-NAC significantly reduced the in vitro anti-HCV activity of ART and derivatives. Taken together, the in vitro anti-HCV activity of ART and analogues can, at least in part, be explained by the induction of ROS; carbon-centered radicals may not be important in the anti-HCV effect of these molecules.
PMCID: PMC3859510  PMID: 24349127
5.  Coxsackievirus mutants that can bypass host factor PI4KIIIβ and the need for high levels of PI4P lipids for replication 
Cell Research  2012;22(11):1576-1592.
RNA viruses can rapidly mutate and acquire resistance to drugs that directly target viral enzymes, which poses serious problems in a clinical context. Therefore, there is a growing interest in the development of antiviral drugs that target host factors critical for viral replication, since they are unlikely to mutate in response to therapy. We recently demonstrated that phosphatidylinositol-4-kinase IIIβ (PI4KIIIβ) and its product phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate (PI4P) are essential for replication of enteroviruses, a group of medically important RNA viruses including poliovirus (PV), coxsackievirus, rhinovirus, and enterovirus 71. Here, we show that enviroxime and GW5074 decreased PI4P levels at the Golgi complex by directly inhibiting PI4KIIIβ. Coxsackievirus mutants resistant to these inhibitors harbor single point mutations in the non-structural protein 3A. These 3A mutations did not confer compound-resistance by restoring the activity of PI4KIIIβ in the presence of the compounds. Instead, replication of the mutant viruses no longer depended on PI4KIIIβ, since their replication was insensitive to siRNA-mediated depletion of PI4KIIIβ. The mutant viruses also did not rely on other isoforms of PI4K. Consistently, no high level of PI4P could be detected at the replication sites induced by the mutant viruses in the presence of the compounds. Collectively, these findings indicate that through specific single point mutations in 3A, CVB3 can bypass an essential host factor and lipid for its propagation, which is a new example of RNA viruses acquiring resistance against antiviral compounds, even when they directly target host factors.
PMCID: PMC3494396  PMID: 22945356
Enterovirus; replication; membranes; host factor PI4KIIIβ; PI4P lipids
6.  Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Fluoxetine Inhibits Replication of Human Enteroviruses B and D by Targeting Viral Protein 2C 
Although the genus Enterovirus contains many important human pathogens, there is no licensed drug for either the treatment or the prophylaxis of enterovirus infections. We report that fluoxetine (Prozac)—a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor—inhibits the replication of human enterovirus B (HEV-B) and HEV-D but does not affect the replication of HEV-A and HEV-C or human rhinovirus A or B. We show that fluoxetine interferes with viral RNA replication, and we identified viral protein 2C as the target of this compound.
PMCID: PMC3623316  PMID: 23335743
7.  3C Protease of Enterovirus 68: Structure-Based Design of Michael Acceptor Inhibitors and Their Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Effects against Picornaviruses 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(8):4339-4351.
We have determined the cleavage specificity and the crystal structure of the 3C protease of enterovirus 68 (EV68 3Cpro). The protease exhibits a typical chymotrypsin fold with a Cys...His...Glu catalytic triad; its three-dimensional structure is closely related to that of the 3Cpro of rhinovirus 2, as well as to that of poliovirus. The phylogenetic position of the EV68 3Cpro between the corresponding enzymes of rhinoviruses on the one hand and classical enteroviruses on the other prompted us to use the crystal structure for the design of irreversible inhibitors, with the goal of discovering broad-spectrum antiviral compounds. We synthesized a series of peptidic α,β-unsaturated ethyl esters of increasing length and for each inhibitor candidate, we determined a crystal structure of its complex with the EV68 3Cpro, which served as the basis for the next design round. To exhibit inhibitory activity, compounds must span at least P3 to P1′; the most potent inhibitors comprise P4 to P1′. Inhibitory activities were found against the purified 3C protease of EV68, as well as with replicons for poliovirus and EV71 (50% effective concentration [EC50] = 0.5 μM for the best compound). Antiviral activities were determined using cell cultures infected with EV71, poliovirus, echovirus 11, and various rhinovirus serotypes. The most potent inhibitor, SG85, exhibited activity with EC50s of ≈180 nM against EV71 and ≈60 nM against human rhinovirus 14 in a live virus–cell-based assay. Even the shorter SG75, spanning only P3 to P1′, displayed significant activity (EC50 = 2 to 5 μM) against various rhinoviruses.
PMCID: PMC3624371  PMID: 23388726
8.  Ivermectin is a potent inhibitor of flavivirus replication specifically targeting NS3 helicase activity: new prospects for an old drug 
Infection with yellow fever virus (YFV), the prototypic mosquito-borne flavivirus, causes severe febrile disease with haemorrhage, multi-organ failure and a high mortality. Moreover, in recent years the Flavivirus genus has gained further attention due to re-emergence and increasing incidence of West Nile, dengue and Japanese encephalitis viruses. Potent and safe antivirals are urgently needed.
Starting from the crystal structure of the NS3 helicase from Kunjin virus (an Australian variant of West Nile virus), we identified a novel, unexploited protein site that might be involved in the helicase catalytic cycle and could thus in principle be targeted for enzyme inhibition. In silico docking of a library of small molecules allowed us to identify a few selected compounds with high predicted affinity for the new site. Their activity against helicases from several flaviviruses was confirmed in in vitro helicase/enzymatic assays. The effect on the in vitro replication of flaviviruses was then evaluated.
Ivermectin, a broadly used anti-helminthic drug, proved to be a highly potent inhibitor of YFV replication (EC50 values in the sub-nanomolar range). Moreover, ivermectin inhibited, although less efficiently, the replication of several other flaviviruses, i.e. dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and tick-borne encephalitis viruses. Ivermectin exerts its effect at a timepoint that coincides with the onset of intracellular viral RNA synthesis, as expected for a molecule that specifically targets the viral helicase.
The well-tolerated drug ivermectin may hold great potential for treatment of YFV infections. Furthermore, structure-based optimization may result in analogues exerting potent activity against flaviviruses other than YFV.
PMCID: PMC3888155  PMID: 22535622
antiviral drug discovery; flavivirus helicase inhibition; new use of existing drug; in silico docking; structure-based drug design
9.  Simple and inexpensive three-step rapid amplification of cDNA 5′ ends using 5′ phosphorylated primers 
Analytical Biochemistry  2013;434(1):1-3.
Rapid amplification of cDNA 5′ ends (5′-RACE) is routinely used for the sequence analysis of the upstream noncoding regions of cellular mRNAs; however, it represents a tedious and cost-intensive procedure. By employing 5′ phosphorylated gene-specific primers for first-strand cDNA synthesis, we cut short the previously established reverse ligation and amplification protocol of Mandl and coworkers (BioTechniques, 1991, vol. 10, pp. 484–486) to a streamlined three-step procedure that no longer depends on enzymatic mRNA decapping or linker ligation. The novel three-step protocol has been validated by mapping the transcriptional start sites of heterologously expressed yellow fever virus genomic RNAs from cultured mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC3562438  PMID: 23123427
Transcriptional initiation site mapping; Rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE); RNA cloning; Linker cloning; Tobacco acid pyrophosphatase
10.  The HCV Non-Nucleoside Inhibitor Tegobuvir Utilizes a Novel Mechanism of Action to Inhibit NS5B Polymerase Function 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39163.
Tegobuvir (TGV) is a novel non-nucleoside inhibitor (NNI) of HCV RNA replication with demonstrated antiviral activity in patients with genotype 1 chronic HCV infection. The mechanism of action of TGV has not been clearly defined despite the identification of resistance mutations mapping to the NS5B polymerase region. TGV does not inhibit NS5B enzymatic activity in biochemical assays in vitro, suggesting a more complex antiviral mechanism with cellular components. Here, we demonstrate that TGV exerts anti-HCV activity utilizing a unique chemical activation and subsequent direct interaction with the NS5B protein. Treatment of HCV subgenomic replicon cells with TGV results in a modified form of NS5B with a distinctly altered mobility on a SDS-PAGE gel. Further analysis reveals that the aberrantly migrating NS5B species contains the inhibitor molecule. Formation of this complex does not require the presence of any other HCV proteins. The intensity of the aberrantly migrating NS5B species is strongly dependent on cellular glutathione levels as well as CYP 1A activity. Furthermore analysis of NS5B protein purified from a heterologous expression system treated with TGV by mass spectrometry suggests that TGV undergoes a CYP- mediated intracellular activation step and the resulting metabolite, after forming a glutathione conjugate, directly and specifically interacts with NS5B. Taken together, these data demonstrate that upon metabolic activation TGV is a specific, covalent inhibitor of the HCV NS5B polymerase and is mechanistically distinct from other classes of the non-nucleoside inhibitors (NNI) of the viral polymerase.
PMCID: PMC3374789  PMID: 22720059
11.  An Analogue of the Antibiotic Teicoplanin Prevents Flavivirus Entry In Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37244.
There is an urgent need for potent inhibitors of dengue virus (DENV) replication for the treatment and/or prophylaxis of infections with this virus. We here report on an aglycon analogue of the antibiotic teicoplanin (code name LCTA-949) that inhibits DENV-induced cytopathic effect (CPE) in a dose-dependent manner. Virus infection was completely inhibited at concentrations that had no adverse effect on the host cells. These findings were corroborated by quantification of viral RNA levels in culture supernatant. Antiviral activity was also observed against other flaviviruses such as the yellow fever virus and the tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). In particular, potent antiviral activity was observed against TBEV. Time-of-drug-addition experiments indicated that LCTA-949 inhibits an early stage in the DENV replication cycle; however, a virucidal effect was excluded. This observation was corroborated by the fact that LCTA-949 lacks activity on DENV subgenomic replicon (that does not encode structural proteins) replication. Using a microsopy-based binding and fusion assay employing DiD-labeled viruses, it was shown that LCTA-949 targets the early stage (binding/entry) of the infection. Moreover, LCTA-949 efficiently inhibits infectivity of DENV particles pre-opsonized with antibodies, thus potentially also inhibiting antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). In conclusion, LCTA-949 exerts in vitro activity against several flaviviruses and does so (as shown for DENV) by interfering with an early step in the viral replication cycle.
PMCID: PMC3356272  PMID: 22624001
12.  Hepatitis C virus infection of neuroepithelioma cell lines 
Gastroenterology  2010;139(4):1365-1374.
Background & Aims
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) establishes chronic infections in 3% of the world's population. Infection leads to progressive liver disease; hepatocytes are the major site of viral replication in vivo. However, chronic infection is associated with a variety of extrahepatic syndromes, including central nervous system (CNS) abnormalities. We therefore screened a series of neural and brain-derived cell lines for their ability to support HCV entry and replication.
We used a panel of neural-derived cell lines, HCV pseudoparticles (HCVpp), and an infectious, HCV JFH-1 cell-culture system (HCVcc) to assess viral tropism.
Two independently derived neuroepithelioma cell lines (SK-N-MC and SK-PN-DW) permitted HCVpp entry. In contrast, several neuroblastoma, glioma, and astrocytoma cell lines were refractory to HCVpp infection. HCVcc infected the neuroepithelioma cell lines and established a productive infection. Permissive neuroepithelioma cells expressed CD81, scavenger receptor BI (SR-BI), and the tight junction proteins Claudin-1 (CLDN1) and occludin, whereas non-permissive neural cell lines lacked CLDN1 and in some cases SR-BI. HCVpp infection of the neuroepithelioma cells was neutralized by antibodies to CD81, SR-BI, CLDN1 and HCV E2. Furthermore, anti-CD81, interferon and the anti-NS3 protease inhibitor VX-950 significantly reduced HCVcc infection of neuroepithelioma and hepatoma cells.
Neuroepithelioma-derived cell lines express functional receptors that support HCV entry at comparable levels to that of hepatoma cells. HCV infection in vitro is not restricted to hepatic-derived cells, so HCV might infect cells of the CNS in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3298458  PMID: 20538002
OCLN; neurotropism; brain; therapy; replicon; Huh-7; VX-950
13.  Mechanistic Characterization of GS-9190 (Tegobuvir), a Novel Nonnucleoside Inhibitor of Hepatitis C Virus NS5B Polymerase▿ 
GS-9190 (Tegobuvir) is a novel imidazopyridine inhibitor of hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA replication in vitro and has demonstrated potent antiviral activity in patients chronically infected with genotype 1 (GT1) HCV. GS-9190 exhibits reduced activity against GT2a (JFH1) subgenomic replicons and GT2a (J6/JFH1) infectious virus, suggesting that the compound's mechanism of action involves a genotype-specific viral component. To further investigate the GS-9190 mechanism of action, we utilized the susceptibility differences between GT1b and GT2a by constructing a series of replicon chimeras where combinations of 1b and 2a nonstructural proteins were encoded within the same replicon. The antiviral activities of GS-9190 against the chimeric replicons were reduced to levels comparable to that of the wild-type GT2a replicon in chimeras expressing GT2a NS5B. GT1b replicons in which the β-hairpin region (amino acids 435 to 455) was replaced by the corresponding sequence of GT2a were markedly less susceptible to GS-9190, indicating the importance of the thumb subdomain of the polymerase in this effect. Resistance selection in GT1b replicon cells identified several mutations in NS5B (C316Y, Y448H, Y452H, and C445F) that contributed to the drug resistance phenotype. Reintroduction of these mutations into wild-type replicons conferred resistance to GS-9190, with the number of NS5B mutations correlating with the degree of resistance. Analysis of GS-9190 cross-resistance against previously reported NS5B drug-selected mutations showed that the resistance pattern of GS-9190 is different from other nonnucleoside inhibitors. Collectively, these data demonstrate that GS-9190 represents a novel class of nonnucleoside polymerase inhibitors that interact with NS5B likely through involvement of the β-hairpin in the thumb subdomain.
PMCID: PMC3165336  PMID: 21746939
14.  Comparative Study of the Genetic Barriers and Pathways towards Resistance of Selective Inhibitors of Hepatitis C Virus Replication▿† 
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) inhibitors include direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) such as NS3 serine protease inhibitors, nucleoside and nonnucleoside polymerase inhibitors, and host-targeting antivirals (HTAs) such as cyclophilin inhibitors that have been developed in recent years. Drug-resistant HCV variants have been reported both in vitro and in the clinical setting for most classes of drugs. We report a comparative study in which the genetic barrier to drug resistance of a representative selection of these inhibitors is evaluated employing a number of resistance selection protocols. The NS3 protease inhibitors VX-950 and BILN 2061, the nucleoside polymerase inhibitor 2′-C-methylcytidine, three nonnucleoside polymerase inhibitors (thiophene carboxylic acid, benzimidazole, and benzothiadiazine), and DEB025 were included. For each drug and passage in the selection process, the phenotype and genotype of the drug-resistant replicon were determined. For a number of molecules (BILN 2061 and nonnucleoside inhibitors), drug-resistant variants were readily selected when wild-type replicon-containing cells were directly cultured in the presence of high concentrations of the inhibitor. Resistance to DEB025 could be selected only following a lengthy stepwise selection procedure. For some DAAs, the signature mutations that emerged under inhibitor pressure differed depending on the selection protocol that was employed. Replication fitness of resistant mutants revealed that the C445F mutation in the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase can restore loss of fitness caused by a number of unfit resistance mutations. These data provide important insights into the various pathways leading to drug resistance and allow a direct comparison of the genetic barriers of various HCV drugs.
PMCID: PMC3165355  PMID: 21709100
15.  Antiviral Activity of Bay 41-4109 on Hepatitis B Virus in Humanized Alb-uPA/SCID Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e25096.
Current treatments for HBV chronic carriers using interferon alpha or nucleoside analogues are not effective in all patients and may induce the emergence of HBV resistant strains. Bay 41-4109, a member of the heteroaryldihydropyrimidine family, inhibits HBV replication by destabilizing capsid assembly. The aim of this study was to determine the antiviral effect of Bay 41-4109 in a mouse model with humanized liver and the spread of active HBV. Antiviral assays of Bay 41-4109 on HepG2.2.15 cells constitutively expressing HBV, displayed an IC50 of about 202 nM with no cell toxicity. Alb-uPA/SCID mice were transplanted with human hepatocytes and infected with HBV. Ten days post-infection, the mice were treated with Bay 41-4109 for five days. During the 30 days of follow-up, the HBV load was evaluated by quantitative PCR. At the end of treatment, decreased HBV viremia of about 1 log(10) copies/ml was observed. By contrast, increased HBV viremia of about 0.5 log(10) copies/ml was measured in the control group. Five days after the end of treatment, a rebound of HBV viremia occurred in the treated group. Furthermore, 15 days after treatment discontinuation, a similar expression of the viral capsid was evidenced in liver biopsies. Our findings demonstrate that Bay 41-4109 displayed antiviral properties against HBV in humanized Alb-uPA/SCID mice and confirm the usefulness of Alb-uPA/SCID mice for the evaluation of pharmaceutical compounds. The administration of Bay 41-4109 may constitute a new strategy for the treatment of patients in escape from standard antiviral therapy.
PMCID: PMC3230577  PMID: 22162746
16.  Preclinical Characterization of Naturally Occurring Polyketide Cyclophilin Inhibitors from the Sanglifehrin Family▿† 
Cyclophilin inhibitors currently in clinical trials for hepatitis C virus (HCV) are all analogues of cyclosporine (CsA). Sanglifehrins are a group of naturally occurring cyclophilin binding polyketides that are structurally distinct from the cyclosporines and are produced by a microorganism amenable to biosynthetic engineering for lead optimization and large-scale production by fermentation. Preclinical characterization of the potential utility of this class of compounds for the treatment of HCV revealed that the natural sanglifehrins A to D are all more potent than CsA at disrupting formation of the NS5A-CypA, -CypB, and -CypD complexes and at inhibition of CypA, CypB, and CypD isomerase activity. In particular, sanglifehrin B (SfB) was 30- to 50-fold more potent at inhibiting the isomerase activity of all Cyps tested than CsA and was also shown to be a more potent inhibitor of the 1b subgenomic replicon (50% effective concentrations [EC50s] of 0.070 μM and 0.16 μM in Huh 5-2 and Huh 9-13 cells, respectively). Physicochemical and mouse pharmacokinetic analyses revealed low oral bioavailability (F < 4%) and low solubility (<25 μM), although the half-lives (t1/2) of SfA and SfB in mouse blood after intravenous (i.v.) dosing were long (t1/2 > 5 h). These data demonstrate that naturally occurring sanglifehrins are suitable lead compounds for the development of novel analogues that are less immunosuppressive and that have improved metabolism and pharmacokinetic properties.
PMCID: PMC3088210  PMID: 21383094
17.  Broad Antiviral Activity of Carbohydrate-Binding Agents against the Four Serotypes of Dengue Virus in Monocyte-Derived Dendritic Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21658.
Dendritic cells (DC), present in the skin, are the first target cells of dengue virus (DENV). Dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule 3-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN) is present on DC and recognizes N-glycosylation sites on the E-glycoprotein of DENV. Thus, the DC-SIGN/E-glycoprotein interaction can be considered as an important target for inhibitors of viral replication. We evaluated various carbohydrate-binding agents (CBAs) against all four described serotypes of DENV replication in Raji/DC-SIGN+ cells and in monocyte-derived DC (MDDC).
Methodology/Principal Findings
A dose-dependent anti-DENV activity of the CBAs Hippeastrum hybrid (HHA), Galanthus nivalis (GNA) and Urtica dioica (UDA), but not actinohivin (AH) was observed against all four DENV serotypes as analyzed by flow cytometry making use of anti-DENV antibodies. Remarkably, the potency of the CBAs against DENV in MDDC cultures was significantly higher (up to 100-fold) than in Raji/DC-SIGN+ cells. Pradimicin-S (PRM-S), a small-size non-peptidic CBA, exerted antiviral activity in MDDC but not in Raji/DC-SIGN+ cells. The CBAs act at an early step of DENV infection as they bind to the viral envelope of DENV and subsequently prevent virus attachment. Only weak antiviral activity of the CBAs was detected when administered after the virus attachment step. The CBAs were also able to completely prevent the cellular activation and differentiation process of MDDC induced upon DENV infection.
The CBAs exerted broad spectrum antiviral activity against the four DENV serotypes, laboratory-adapted viruses and low passage clinical isolates, evaluated in Raji/DC-SIGN+ cells and in primary MDDC.
PMCID: PMC3128091  PMID: 21738755
18.  A Derivate of the Antibiotic Doxorubicin Is a Selective Inhibitor of Dengue and Yellow Fever Virus Replication In Vitro ▿ †  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2010;54(12):5269-5280.
A doxorubicin derivate, SA-17, that carries a squaric acid amide ester moiety at the carbohydrate (α-l-daunosaminyl) group was identified as a selective inhibitor of in vitro dengue virus (DENV) serotype 2 replication (50% effective concentration [EC50] = 0.34 ± 0.20 μg/ml [0.52 ± 0.31 μM]). SA-17 is markedly less cytostatic than the parent compound, resulting in a selectivity index value of ∼100. SA-17 also inhibits yellow fever virus 17D (YFV-17D) replication (EC50 = 3.1 ± 1.0 μg/ml [4.8 ± 1.5 μM]), although less efficiently than DENV replication, but proved inactive against a variety of enveloped and nonenveloped viruses. SA-17 inhibits in vitro flavivirus replication in a dose-dependent manner, as was assessed by virus yield reduction assays and quantification of viral RNA by means of real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-qPCR) (∼2 to 3 log reduction). The anti-DENV activity was confirmed using a Renilla luciferase-expressing dengue reporter virus. Time-of-drug-addition studies revealed that SA-17 acts at the very early stages of the viral replication cycle (i.e., virus attachment and/or virus entry). This observation was corroborated by the observation that SA-17, unlike the nucleoside analogue ribavirin, does not inhibit the replication of DENV subgenomic replicons. Preincubation of high-titer stocks of DENV or YFV-17D with ≥5 μg/ml SA-17 resulted in 100% inhibition of viral infectivity (≥3 log reduction). SA-17, however, did not prove virucidal.
PMCID: PMC2981273  PMID: 20837762
19.  Tracking the Evolution of Multiple In Vitro Hepatitis C Virus Replicon Variants under Protease Inhibitor Selection Pressure by 454 Deep Sequencing ▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(21):11124-11133.
Resistance to hepatitis C virus (HCV) inhibitors targeting viral enzymes has been observed in in vitro replicon studies and during clinical trials. The factors determining the emergence of resistance and the changes in the viral quasispecies population under selective pressure are not fully understood. To assess the dynamics of variants emerging in vitro under various selective pressures with TMC380765, a potent macrocyclic HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor, HCV genotype 1b replicon-containing cells were cultured in the presence of a low, high, or stepwise-increasing TMC380765 concentration(s). HCV replicon RNA from representative samples thus obtained was analyzed using (i) population, (ii) clonal, and (iii) 454 deep sequencing technologies. Depending on the concentration of TMC380765, distinct mutational patterns emerged. In particular, culturing with low concentrations resulted in the selection of low-level resistance mutations (F43S and A156G), whereas high concentrations resulted in the selection of high-level resistance mutations (A156V, D168V, and D168A). Clonal and 454 deep sequencing analysis of the replicon RNA allowed the identification of low-frequency preexisting mutations possibly contributing to the mutational pattern that emerged. Stepwise-increasing TMC380765 concentrations resulted in the emergence and disappearance of multiple replicon variants in response to the changing selection pressure. Moreover, two different codons for the wild-type amino acids were observed at certain NS3 positions within one population of replicons, which may contribute to the emerging mutational patterns. Deep sequencing technologies enabled the study of minority variants present in the HCV quasispecies population present at baseline and during antiviral drug pressure, giving new insights into the dynamics of resistance acquisition by HCV.
PMCID: PMC2953167  PMID: 20739521
20.  Differential Effects of the Putative GBF1 Inhibitors Golgicide A and AG1478 on Enterovirus Replication▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(15):7535-7542.
The genus Enterovirus, belonging to the family Picornaviridae, includes well-known pathogens, such as poliovirus, coxsackievirus, and rhinovirus. Brefeldin A (BFA) impedes replication of several enteroviruses through inhibition of Golgi-specific BFA resistance factor 1 (GBF1), a regulator of secretory pathway integrity and transport. GBF1 mediates the GTP exchange of Arf1, which in activated form recruits coatomer protein complex I (COP-I) to Golgi vesicles, a process important in transport between the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi vesicles. Recently, the drugs AG1478 and Golgicide A (GCA) were put forward as new inhibitors of GBF1. In this study, we investigated the effects of these putative GBF1 inhibitors on secretory pathway function and enterovirus replication. We show that both drugs induced fragmentation of the Golgi vesicles and caused dissociation of Arf1 and COP-I from Golgi membranes, yet they differed in their effect on GBF1 localization. The effects of AG1478, but not those of GCA, could be countered by overexpression of Arf1, indicating a difference in their molecular mechanism of action. Consistent with this idea, we observed that GCA drastically reduced replication of coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) and other human enterovirus species, whereas AG1478 had no effect at all on enterovirus replication. Time-of-addition studies and analysis of RNA replication using a subgenomic replicon both showed that GCA suppresses RNA replication of CVB3, which could be countered by overexpression of GBF1. These results indicate that, in contrast to AG1478, GCA inhibits CVB3 RNA replication by targeting GBF1. AG1478 and GCA may be valuable tools to further dissect enterovirus replication.
PMCID: PMC2897619  PMID: 20504936
21.  DEB025 (Alisporivir) Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus Replication by Preventing a Cyclophilin A Induced Cis-Trans Isomerisation in Domain II of NS5A 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13687.
DEB025/Debio 025 (Alisporivir) is a cyclophilin (Cyp)-binding molecule with potent anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) activity both in vitro and in vivo. It is currently being evaluated in phase II clinical trials. DEB025 binds to CypA, a peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase which is a crucial cofactor for HCV replication. Here we report that it was very difficult to select resistant replicons (genotype 1b) to DEB025, requiring an average of 20 weeks (four independent experiments), compared to the typically <2 weeks with protease or polymerase inhibitors. This indicates a high genetic barrier to resistance for DEB025. Mutation D320E in NS5A was the only mutation consistently selected in the replicon genome. This mutation alone conferred a low-level (3.9-fold) resistance. Replacing the NS5A gene (but not the NS5B gene) from the wild type (WT) genome with the corresponding sequence from the DEB025res replicon resulted in transfer of resistance. Cross-resistance with cyclosporine A (CsA) was observed, whereas NS3 protease and NS5B polymerase inhibitors retained WT-activity against DEB025res replicons. Unlike WT, DEB025res replicon replicated efficiently in CypA knock down cells. However, DEB025 disrupted the interaction between CypA and NS5A regardless of whether the NS5A protein was derived from WT or DEB025res replicon. NMR titration experiments with peptides derived from the WT or the DEB025res domain II of NS5A corroborated this observation in a quantitative manner. Interestingly, comparative NMR studies on two 20-mer NS5A peptides that contain D320 or E320 revealed a shift in population between the major and minor conformers. These data suggest that D320E conferred low-level resistance to DEB025 probably by reducing the need for CypA-dependent isomerisation of NS5A. Prolonged DEB025 treatment and multiple genotypic changes may be necessary to generate significant resistance to DEB025, underlying the high barrier to resistance.
PMCID: PMC2965138  PMID: 21060866
22.  Structure and functionality in flavivirus NS-proteins: Perspectives for drug design 
Antiviral Research  2010;87(2):125-148.
Flaviviridae are small enveloped viruses hosting a positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome. Besides yellow fever virus, a landmark case in the history of virology, members of the Flavivirus genus, such as West Nile virus and dengue virus, are increasingly gaining attention due to their re-emergence and incidence in different areas of the world. Additional environmental and demographic considerations suggest that novel or known flaviviruses will continue to emerge in the future. Nevertheless, up to few years ago flaviviruses were considered low interest candidates for drug design. At the start of the European Union VIZIER Project, in 2004, just two crystal structures of protein domains from the flaviviral replication machinery were known. Such pioneering studies, however, indicated the flaviviral replication complex as a promising target for the development of antiviral compounds. Here we review structural and functional aspects emerging from the characterization of two main components (NS3 and NS5 proteins) of the flavivirus replication complex. Most of the reviewed results were achieved within the European Union VIZIER Project, and cover topics that span from viral genomics to structural biology and inhibition mechanisms. The ultimate aim of the reported approaches is to shed light on the design and development of antiviral drug leads.
PMCID: PMC3918146  PMID: 19945487
BVDV, bovine viral diarrhea virus; C, capsid protein; CSFV, classical swine fever virus; CCHFV, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus; CPE, cyto-pathogenic effect; dsRNA, double-stranded RNA; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; E, envelope protein; GMP, guanosine monophosphate; GTP, guanosine triphosphate; GTase, guanylyltransferase; NS3Hel, helicase; HIV, Human Immunodeficiency Virus I; HCV, hepatitis C virus; HBS, high affinity binding site; IMP, Inosine 5′-monophosphate; LBS, low-affinity binding site; M, membrane protein; NS5MTase, methyltransferase; N7MTase, (guanine-N7)-methyltransferase; 2′OMTase, (nucleoside-2′-O-)-methyltransferase; NS, non-structural; NLS, nuclear localization sequences; NS3Pro, protease; RC, replication-competent complex; RSV, respiratory syncytial virus; NS5RdRp, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase; NS3RTPase, RNA triphosphatase; AdoMet, S-adenosyl-L-methionine; ssRNA, single-stranded RNA; T-705 RMP, T-705-ribofuranosyl-5′-monophosphate; VIZIER, Viral Enzymes Involved in Replication; Flavivirus; Flaviviral NS3 protein; Flaviviral NS5 protein; Protease; Helicase; Polymerase; Methyltransferase; Flavivirus protein structure; Antivirals; VIZIER Consortium
23.  Antiviral Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Infections† 
Viruses  2010;2(6):1279-1305.
While 25 compounds have been formally licensed for the treatment of HIV infection (AIDS), only seven licensed products are currently available for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection: interferon-α, pegylated interferon-α, lamivudine, adefovir (dipivoxil), entecavir, telbivudine and tenofovir (disoproxil fumarate). In contrast to the treatment of HIV infections where the individual drugs are routinely used in combination, for the treatment of chronic HBV infection the individual drugs are generally used in monotherapy. In principle, combination drug therapy should allow reducing the likelihood of drug-resistant development.
PMCID: PMC3185710  PMID: 21994680
antiviral therapy; HBV therapy; nucleoside analogs; viral hepatitis
24.  Antiviral Therapy for Hepatitis C Virus: Beyond the Standard of Care 
Viruses  2010;2(4):826-866.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) represents a major health burden, with an estimated 180 million chronically infected individuals worldwide. These patients are at increased risk of developing liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Infection with HCV is the leading cause of liver transplantation in the Western world. Currently, the standard of care (SoC) consists of pegylated interferon alpha (pegIFN-α) and ribavirin (RBV). However this therapy has a limited efficacy and is associated with serious side effects. Therefore more tolerable, highly potent inhibitors of HCV replication are urgently needed. Both Specifically Targeted Antiviral Therapy for HCV (STAT-C) and inhibitors that are believed to interfere with the host-viral interaction are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3185663  PMID: 21994657
HCV; new antivirals; review
25.  Mutations in the Nonstructural Protein 3A Confer Resistance to the Novel Enterovirus Replication Inhibitor TTP-8307▿  
A novel compound, TTP-8307, was identified as a potent inhibitor of the replication of several rhino- and enteroviruses. TTP-8307 inhibits viral RNA synthesis in a dose-dependent manner, without affecting polyprotein synthesis and/or processing. Drug-resistant variants of coxsackievirus B3 were all shown to carry at least one amino acid mutation in the nonstructural protein 3A. In particular, three mutations located in a nonstructured region preceding the hydrophobic domain (V45A, I54F, and H57Y) appeared to contribute to the drug-resistant phenotype. This region has previously been identified as a hot sport for mutations that resulted in resistance to enviroxime, the sole 3A-targeting enterovirus inhibitor reported thus far. This was corroborated by the fact that TTP-8307 and enviroxime proved cross-resistant. It is hypothesized that TTP-8307 and enviroxime disrupt proper interactions of 3A(B) with other viral or cellular proteins that are required for efficient replication.
PMCID: PMC2681499  PMID: 19237651

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