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  • PrEP-001 prophylactic effect against rhinovirus and influenza virus - RESULTS of 2 randomized trials
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-03-19
    Bruce Albert Malcolm, Caroline Anne Aerts, Kristof Johan Dubois, Frederik Joris Geurts, Kris Marien, Sarah Rusch, Alex Henri Van Dijck, Rene Verloes, Johan Vingerhoets

    BACKGROUND PrEP-001 Nasal Powder, a proprietary formulation of polyriboinosinic and polyribocytidylic acid effectively elicits a cellular innate immune response in nasal epithelium. The aim of these 2 studies was to investigate the safety and efficacy of PrEP-001 prophylaxis against rhinovirus (HRV-A16) and influenza-A (H3N2-IAV). METHODS Healthy subjects randomly received 2 doses of PrEP-001 or placebo, 48 and 24 h pre-challenge with 10 TCID50 of HRV-A16 (Study 1) or H3N2-IAV (Study 2). RESULTS In Study 1, PrEP-001 reduced median total symptom score from 38.5 to 4.5 (p = 0.004), median symptom duration from 6.0 to 1.7 days and median mucus production from 15 g to 3 g. The percentage of subjects classified as ill was reduced 3-fold (placebo 73%, PrEP-001 23%, p = 0.002). In Study 2, PrEP-001 reduced median total symptom score from 8.0 to 4.1 (p = 0.021), median symptom duration from 4.6 to 3.7 days and median mucus production from 3.6 g to 1.5 g. The percentage of subjects classified as ill was reduced 2-fold (placebo 48%, PrEP-001 24%, p = 0.064). PrEP-001 reduced peak viral shedding in both studies, as assessed by qRT-PCR of nasal lavage. Seroconversion rates were comparable between placebo and PrEP-001 (Study 1: 77% [both arms]; Study 2: placebo 73%, PrEP-001 80%). PrEP-001 was well-tolerated, with no clinically significant adverse events. CONCLUSIONS PrEP-001 reduced the number of individuals with clinical illness and attenuated severity and duration of HRV-A16 and H3N2-IAV infections without compromising seroconversion, and was well-tolerated. This supports further evaluation of PrEP-001 as a potential pan-viral prophylaxis for upper respiratory tract infections. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION Study 1, HRV-A16 study: EudraCT Number 2012-005579-14 (study conducted before ClinicalTrials.gov registration required). Study 2, H3N2-IAV study: EudraCT Number 2015-002895-26 and ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT03220048.

  • An in silico-designed flavone derivative, 6-fluoro-4′-hydroxy-3′,5′-dimetoxyflavone, prevents replication of human cytomegalovirus in infected cells stronger than ganciclovir
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-03-17
    Kazuhiro J. Fujimoto, Daiki Nema, Masayuki Ninomiya, Mamoru Koketsu, Hidetaka Sadanari, Masaya Takemoto, Tohru Daikoku, Tsugiya Murayama

    A novel type of antiviral agent for human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is required, because the appearance of ganciclovir (GCV) resistant viruses has been reported. Tricin (4′,5,7-trihydroxy-3′,5′-dimethoxyflavone) has been shown to suppress significantly HCMV replication in human embryonic lung (HEL) fibroblast cells. Recently, we revealed that the action of tricin is different from that of GCV and cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) is one of the target proteins of tricin. These results suggested that tricin is considered as a novel type of anti-HCMV agent. However, its anti-HCMV potency is not stronger than that of GCV. This study tried to develop novel compounds with much stronger anti-HCMV activity than GCV. We first made modifications to tricin by introducing fluorine atom, and then performed molecular docking simulations using the designed compounds and CDK9. The calculated binding energies showed that 6F-tricin (6-fluoro-4′-hydroxy-3′,5′-dimetoxyflavone) binds to CDK9 much stronger than tricin. Based on these results, 6F-tricin was synthesized, and then its anti-HCMV effect was analyzed in HEL cell cultures. As a result, 6F-tricin strongly suppressed HCMV replication in a dose-dependent manner. The anti-HCMV activity with a 50% effective concentration (EC50) was 0.126 nM, corresponding to about 1/200 and 1/400 of EC50 of GCV (27.5 nM) and tricin (54.3 nM), respectively. Moreover, 6F-tricin had no cytotoxicity against HEL cells at concentrations up to 10 μM. We further performed detailed analysis on the amino acid contributions to the binding energies and found that the strong binding affinity for 6F-tricin to CDK9 is attributed to the specific binding orientation of 6F-tricin in the ATP-binding site. These results suggest that 6F-tricin is a promising candidate for anti-HCMV drug development.

  • Improved immune response against HIV-1 Env antigen by enhancing EEV production via a K151E mutation in the A34R gene of replication-competent vaccinia virus Tiantan
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-03-14
    Jie Yu, Yaoming Li, Maohua Zhong, Jingyi Yang, Dihan Zhou, Bali Zhao, Yuan Cao, Hu Yan, Ejuan Zhang, Yi Yang, Zhengshan Feng, Xiuwen Qi, Huimin Yan

    The development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine is still a global priority. In recent years, vaccinia virus (VV) has been widely used as an HIV-1 vaccine vector, but its immune efficacy against HIV-1 antigens needs to be optimized. The extracellular enveloped virus (EEV) of VV is capable of faster entry, earlier release, and long-range dissemination. We hypothesized that an improvement in EEV formation by the manipulation of VV genes involved in the EEV release would consequently cause an improved expression of the VV carrying HIV-1 Env antigen and a subsequent enhanced immune response. To this end, an A34R K151E mutant (rVTT-A34Rmut) from VV Tiantan strain (VTT) with robustly increased EEV release was selected to serve as an optimized vaccine vector. The results were consistent with our hypothesis: the A34R mutant-based HIV-1 vaccine candidate rVTT-A34Rmut-Env produced more HIV-1 Env antigen in vitro and in vivo, and thus led to an improved HIV-1 Env-specific T cell immune response, binding antibody, and even the neutralizing antibody response in mice without increased virulence. Meanwhile, the application of the A34R mutation on another VV-based HIV-1 vaccine candidate, VTKgpe, also exhibited a similar immune enhancement effect with no enhanced virulence. The results in this study suggested that rVTT-A34Rmut is a potentially improved vaccine vector candidate for human application. In addition, the improvement of the EEV formation via the A34R gene mutation may also be potent in other poxvirus vector-based vaccines against HIV-1 or other pathogens and even cancer in the future.

  • Favipiravir as a potential countermeasure against neglected and emerging RNA viruses
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-03-07
    Leen Delang, Rana Abdelnabi, Johan Neyts

    Favipiravir, also known as T-705, is an antiviral drug that has been approved in 2014 in Japan to treat pandemic influenza virus infections. The drug is converted intracellularly into its active, phosphoribosylated form, which is recognized as a substrate by the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Interestingly, besides its anti-influenza virus activity, this molecule is also able to inhibit the replication of flavi-, alpha-, filo-, bunya-, arena-, noro-, and of other RNA viruses, which include neglected and (re)emerging viruses for which no antiviral therapy is currently available. We will discuss the potential of favipiravir as a broad-spectrum countermeasure against infections caused by such neglected RNA viruses. Favipiravir has already been used off-label to treat patients infected with the Ebola virus and the Lassa virus. Because of the particular set-up of the clinical trials during these outbreaks, clear conclusions on the efficacy of favipiravir could not be made. For several viruses, it was demonstrated that the barrier of resistance development against favipiravir is high. Favipiravir has been shown to be well tolerated in healthy volunteers and in influenza virus-infected patients; however, caution is needed because of the teratogenic risks of this molecule. Because of its antiviral activity against different RNA viruses and its high barrier for resistance, the potential of favipiravir as a broad-spectrum antiviral seems promising, but safety and potency issues should be overcome before this drug or similar molecules could be used to treat large patient groups.

  • Profiling the in vitro drug-resistance mechanism of influenza A viruses towards the AM2-S31N proton channel blockers
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-03-06
    Rami Musharrafieh, Chunlong Ma, Jun Wang

    The majority of human influenza A viruses currently in circulation carry the amantadine-resistant AM2-S31N channel mutation. We previously discovered a series of AM2-S31N inhibitors with potent antiviral activity against both oseltamivir-sensitive and -resistant influenza A viruses. To understand the drug-resistance mechanism of AM2-S31N inhibitors, we performed serial viral passage experiments using the influenza virus A/California/07/2009 (H1N1) to select drug-resistant AM2 mutations against two representative AM2-S31N channel blockers (1 and 2). Unlike amantadine, which gives rise to resistance after a single passage, compounds 1 and 2 selected for partially resistant viruses at passages 05 and 04 with a V27I and L26I mutation, respectively. This appears to suggest compounds 1 and 2 have a higher genetic barrier to resistance than amantadine at least in cell culture. Passage with a higher drug concentration of compound 2 selected higher level resistant viruses with a double mutant L26I + A30T. The mechanism of resistance and replication fitness for mutant viruses were evaluated by electrophysiology, reverse genetics, growth kinetics, and competition assays. AM2-S31N/V27I and AM2-S31N/L26I channels achieved similar specific proton conductance as AM2-S31N, but the AM2-S31N/L26I/A30T triple mutant had drastically reduced specific proton conductance. Viral replication fitness of AM2-S31N/V27I and AM2-S31N/L26I double mutant viruses were similar to AM2-S31N containing viruses in cell culture. However, AM2-S31N/L26I/A30T viruses displayed attenuated growth as well as inability to compete with AM2-S31N viruses. The results herein offer insight regarding the resistance mechanism of AM2-S31N inhibitors, and may help guide the design of the next-generation of AM2-S31N inhibitors with a higher genetic barrier to drug resistance.

  • USC-087 protects Syrian hamsters against lethal challenge with human species C adenoviruses
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-03-03
    Karoly Toth, Jacqueline F. Spencer, Baoling Ying, Ann E. Tollefson, Caroll B. Hartline, Eric T. Richard, Jiajun Fan, Jinglei Lyu, Boris A. Kashemirov, Cheryl Harteg, Dawn Reyna, Elke Lipka, Mark N. Prichard, Charles E. McKenna, William S.M. Wold

    Human adenoviruses (AdV) cause generally mild infections of the respiratory and GI tracts as well as some other tissues. However, AdV can cause serious infection in severely immunosuppressed individuals, especially pediatric patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, where mortality rates are up to 80% with disseminated disease. Despite the seriousness of AdV disease, there are no drugs approved specifically to treat AdV infections. We report here that USC-087, an N-alkyl tyrosinamide phosphonate ester prodrug of HPMPA, the adenine analog of cidofovir, is highly effective against multiple AdV types in cell culture. USC-087 is also effective against AdV-C6 in our immunosuppressed permissive Syrian hamster model. In this model, hamsters are immunosuppressed by treatment with high dose cyclophosphamide. Injection of AdV-C6 (or AdV-C5) intravenously leads to a disseminated infection that resembles the disease seen in humans, including death. We have tested the efficacy of orally-administered USC-087 against the median lethal dose of intravenously administered AdV-C6. USC-087 completely prevented or significantly decreased mortality when administered up to 4 days post challenge. USC-087 also prevented or significantly decreased liver damage caused by AdV-C6 infection, and suppressed virus replication even when administered 4 days post challenge. These results imply that USC-087 is a promising candidate for drug development against HAdV infections.

  • Nasal route favors the induction of CD4+ T cell responses in the liver of HBV-carrier mice immunized with a recombinant hepatitis B surface- and core-based therapeutic vaccine
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-03-03
    Maryline Bourgine, Sandrine Crabe, Yadira Lobaina, Gerardo Guillen, Julio Cesar Aguilar, Marie-Louise Michel

    Immunization routes and number of doses remain largely unexplored in therapeutic vaccination. The aim of the present work is to evaluate their impact on immune responses in naïve and hepatitis B virus (HBV)-carrier mouse models following immunization with a non-adjuvanted recombinant vaccine comprising the hepatitis B surface (HBsAg) and core (HBcAg) antigens. Mice were immunized either by intranasal (i.n.), subcutaneous (s.c.) or simultaneous (i.n. + s.c.) routes. Humoral immunity was detected in all the animal models with the induction of a potent antibody (Ab) response against HBcAg, which was stronger than the anti-HBs response. In the HBV-carrier mouse model, the anti-HBs response was predominantly subtype-specific and preferentially induced by the i.n. route. However, the Ab titers were not sufficient to clear the high concentration of HBsAg present in the sera of these mice. The i.n. route was the most efficacious at inducing cellular immune responses, in particular CD4+ T cells. In naïve mice, cellular responses in spleen were strong and mainly due to CD4+ T cells whereas the CD8+ T-cell response was low. In HBV-carrier mice, high frequencies of HBs-specific CD4+ T cells secreting interferon (IFN)-γ, interleukin (IL)-2 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α were found in liver only after i.n. immunization. Increased frequencies of CD4+ T cells expressing the integrin CD49a in liver suggests a role of nasal route in the cellular homing process. Multiple dose schedules appear to be a prerequisite for protein-based immunization in order to overcome immunotolerance in HBV-carrier mice. These findings provide new avenues for further preclinical and clinical development.

  • Bivalent vaccine platform based on ca influenza virus vaccine elicits protective immunity against human adenoviruses
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-03-01
    Hongjing Gu, Yaqian Gao, Shanshan Zhou, Fang Sun, Zhongpeng Zhao, Keyu Wang, Lingna Zhao, Peirui Zhang, Zhaohai Wang, Shaogeng Zhang, Xiliang Wang, Penghui Yang

    Human adenoviruses (HAdVs) are prevalent in pediatric and adult patients with severe acute respiratory disease (ARD). To date, there have been no widely used HAdV vaccines available. In this report, we developed a cold-adapted attenuated influenza virus, termed rg HAdV-Flu ca, carrying epitopes from HAdV hexon protein in the backbone of the ca influenza vaccine neuraminidase (NA) gene using reverse genetics. Rg HAdV-Flu ca virus exhibited a cold-adapted (ca) phenotype, and its morphological characteristics were observed using electron microscopy. Moreover, BALB/c mice were immunized intranasally (i.n.) with 105, 106 or 107 TCID50 rg HAdV-Flu ca. Results showed a specific, robust antibody response against influenza and HAdV in a dose-dependent manner. More importantly, potent humoral, mucosal and cellular immune responses protected against subsequent wild-type HAdV-3 or HAdV-7 challenges, as determined by a significant decrease in viral titers and a noticeable alleviation of histopathological alterations in the lung tissue of challenged mice. These findings demonstrate that rg HAdV-Flu ca warrants attention as a potential vaccine candidate against HAdV infection.

  • The molecular tweezer CLR01 inhibits Ebola and Zika virus infection
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-08
    Annika E. Röcker, Janis A. Müller, Erik Dietzel, Mirja Harms, Franziska Krüger, Christian Heid, Andrea Sowislok, Camilla Frich Riber, Alexandra Kupke, Sina Lippold, Jens von Einem, Judith Beer, Bernd Knöll, Stephan Becker, Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, Markus Otto, Olli Vapalahti, Alexander N. Zelikin, Jan Münch

    Ebola (EBOV) and Zika viruses (ZIKV) are responsible for recent global health threats. As no preventive vaccines or antiviral drugs against these two re-emerging pathogens are available, we evaluated whether the molecular tweezer CLR01 may inhibit EBOV and ZIKV infection. This small molecule has previously been shown to inactivate HIV-1 and herpes viruses through a selective interaction with lipid-raft-rich regions in the viral envelope, which results in membrane disruption and loss of infectivity. We found that CLR01 indeed blocked infection of EBOV and ZIKV in a dose-dependent manner. The tweezer inhibited infection of epidemic ZIKV strains in cells derived from the anogenital tract and the central nervous system, and remained antivirally active in the presence of semen, saliva, urine and cerebrospinal fluid. Our findings show that CLR01 is a broad-spectrum inhibitor of enveloped viruses with prospects as a preventative microbicide or antiviral agent.

  • Inhibition of NF-κB-dependent HIV-1 replication by the marine natural product bengamide A
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-22
    Ian Tietjen, David E. Williams, Silven Read, Xiaomei T. Kuang, Philip Mwimanzi, Emmanuelle Wilhelm, Tristan Markle, Natalie N. Kinloch, Cassandra N. Naphen, Karen Tenney, Thibault Mesplède, Mark A. Wainberg, Phillip Crews, Brendan Bell, Raymond J. Andersen, Zabrina L. Brumme, Mark A. Brockman
  • A virus-like particle vaccine protects mice against coxsackievirus A10 lethal infection
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-20
    Yu Zhou, Chao Zhang, Qingwei Liu, Sitang Gong, Lanlan Geng, Zhong Huang

    Coxsackievirus A10 (CVA10) has emerged worldwide as one of the main pathogens of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) in recent years. However, there is currently no commercial vaccine available to prevent CVA10 infection. Here we report the development of a recombinant virus-like particle (VLP) based candidate vaccine for CVA10. Co-expression of the capsid protein precursor P1 and the protease 3CD of CVA10 in Pichia pastoris resulted in cleavage of P1 into three capsid subunit proteins VP0, VP1, and VP3. These three subunit proteins co-assembled into CVA10 VLPs, which were visualized as spherical particles with a diameter of ∼30 nm under electron microscope. Immunization studies showed that CVA10 VLP could efficiently induce antigen-specific serum antibodies in mice. The anti-VLP sera were able to potently neutralize homologous and heterologous CVA10 strains. Importantly, passively transferred anti-VLP sera fully protected recipient neonatal mice from lethal CVA10 infection. In addition, neonatal mice born to the VLP-immunized dams were also completely protected from CVA10 lethal challenge. Collectively, these data show that CVA10 VLP represents a promising CVA10 vaccine candidate.

  • Therapeutic drug monitoring in treatment-experienced HIV-infected patients receiving darunavir-based salvage regimens: A case series
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-17
    Sébastien Landry, Chi-Nan Chen, Nimish Patel, Alice Tseng, Richard G. Lalonde, Denis Thibeault, Steven Sanche, Nancy L. Sheehan

    Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) constitutes a compelling approach for the optimization of antiretroviral therapy in treatment-experienced HIV-1 patients. While various inhibitory indices have been proposed to predict virologic outcome, there is a lack of consensus on the clinical value of TDM. Here, we report the comparative results of TDM in 14 HIV-1-infected patients who had previously received at least two different PI-based regimens and who initiated darunavir (DRV)-based salvage therapy. Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) parameters were calculated for each subject. Seventy-nine percent of subjects had a viral load <50 copies/mL at 48 weeks. The only subject with two consecutive viral loads >50 copies/mL at the end of the study period was the patient with the lowest instantaneous inhibitory potential (IIP). The sample size was insufficient to show an association between any of the PK/PD parameters and virologic response. Based on our observations, we suggest that the utility of IIP for antiretroviral combinations for the prediction of virologic outcome in HIV-1 drug-experienced patients should be studied further.

  • Impact of RNA polymerase I inhibitor CX-5461 on viral kinase-dependent and -independent cytomegalovirus replication
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-16
    Kristen N. Westdorp, Scott S. Terhune

    Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections cause congenital birth defects and disease in immunosuppressed individuals. Antiviral compounds can control infection yet their use is restricted due to concerns of toxicity and the emergence of drug resistant strains. We have evaluated the impact of an RNA Polymerase I (Pol I) inhibitor, CX-5461 on HCMV replication. CX-5461 inhibits Pol I-mediated ribosomal DNA transcription by binding G-quadruplex DNA structures and also activates cellular stress response pathways. The addition of CX-5461 at both early and late stages of the HCMV infection inhibited viral DNA synthesis and virus production. Interestingly, adding CX-5461 after the onset of viral DNA synthesis resulted in a greater reduction compared to continuous treatment starting early during infection. We observed an accompanying increase in cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 in infected cells treated late but not early which likely explains the differences. Our previous studies demonstrated the importance of p21 in the antiviral activity of the HCMV kinase inhibitor, maribavir. Addition of CX-5461 increased the anti-HCMV activity of maribavir. Our data demonstrate that CX-5461 inhibits HCMV replication and synergizes with maribavir to disrupt infection.

  • Antiviral activity of pyrrole-imidazole polyamides against SV40 and BK polyomaviruses
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-16
    Terri G. Edwards, Chris Fisher

    The ability of antiviral polyamides (AVP) to act upon polyomaviruses (PyV) was evaluated. Initial studies found that a single treatment of AVP protected SV40-infected BSC-1 cells from cytopathic effect (CPE) for as long as 11 days p.i.. AVP substantially suppressed SV40 genome copy numbers over the duration of the experiment. Immunofluorescence analysis of ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) activation and large T antigen (LTag) expression clearly demonstrated that AVP treatment at day 1 p.i. delayed the onset of productive SV40 replication by approximately 3 days, and substantially limited the infection relative to vehicle-treated controls. AVP dose-response experiments recorded IC50s in the low nM range that were similar to IC50s previously reported for HPV16. The ability of AVPs to act on BKPyV was next examined. Again, IC50s in the low nM range were obtained with the exception of an AVP (PA1) that gave an IC50 of 437 nM against the BKPyV Dunlop strain. The Mre11 inhibitor Mirin substantially reduced the AVP IC50 against SV40 demonstrating that Mre11 protects PyV genomes from AVP action as previously shown for HPV. Together these experiments show that AVPs are potent antiviral agents for PyV that act via a mechanism with similarities to that found for HPV. The results demonstrate that AVPs are useful tools for controlling and studying PyV biology. The potential use of these agents against BKPyV and other PyV pathogens also has clinical implications.

  • Artesunate-derived monomeric, dimeric and trimeric experimental drugs – Their unique mechanistic basis and pronounced antiherpesviral activity
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-16
    Friedrich Hahn, Tony Fröhlich, Theresa Frank, Luca D. Bertzbach, Stephan Kohrt, Benedikt B. Kaufer, Thomas Stamminger, Svetlana B. Tsogoeva, Manfred Marschall

    Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a major human pathogen and is associated with severe pathology, such as life-threatening courses of infection in immunocompromised individuals and neonates. Currently, antiviral therapy is still hampered by a considerable toxicity of the available drugs and induction of viral resistance. Recently, we and others reported the very potent antiviral activity of the broad antiinfective drug artesunate in vitro and in vivo. Here, we investigated further optimized analogs including monomeric, dimeric and trimeric derivatives belonging to this highly interesting chemical group of experimental drugs (sesquiterpenes/trioxanes) and compared these to the previously identified trimeric artesunate compound TF27. We could demonstrate that (i) seven of the eight investigated monomeric, dimeric and trimeric artesunate derivatives, i.e. TF79, TF85, TF87, TF93.2.4, TF111, TF57a and TF57ab, exerted a strong anti-HCMV activity in primary human fibroblasts, (ii) the EC50 values ranged in the low to sub-micromolar concentrations and indicated a higher antiviral potency than the recently described artesunate analogs, (iii) one trimeric compound, TF79, showed a very promising EC50 of 0.026 ± 0.002 μM, which even exceled the antiviral potency of TF27 (EC50 0.04 ± 0.01 μM), (iv) levels of cytotoxicity (quantitative measurement of lactate dehydrogenase release) were low in a range between 100 and 30 μM and thus different from antiviral concentrations, (v) an analysis of protein expression levels indicated a potent block of viral protein expression, and (vi) data from a NF-κB reporter cell system strongly suggested that these compounds share the same antiviral mechanism. Taken together, our data on these novel compounds strongly encourages our earlier concept on the oligomerization and hybridization of artesunate analogs, providing an excellent platform for the generation of antiherpesviral drugs.

  • Honeysuckle-encoded microRNA2911 inhibits Enterovirus 71 replication via targeting VP1 gene
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-16
    Xihan Li, Ying Huang, Menghuai Sun, Hong Ji, Hui Dou, Jia Hu, Yanfeng Yan, Xu Wang, Leiyao Chen

    Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is the primary pathogen of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) in children and virus infections are associated with severe neurological dysfunctions and even death. MIR2911 is a honeysuckle-encoded atypical microRNA with extremely stability. Here, we report that MIR2911 directly inhibits EV71 replication by targeting the VP1 gene. Bioinformatics prediction and luciferase reporter assay showed that MIR2911 could target the VP1 gene of EV71. Transfection experiments using synthetic MIR2911 and extracted RNA from HS decoction shown that each of these preparations was capable of inhibiting EV71 VP1 protein expression; however, these preparations did not impact EV71 mutants in which the MIR2911-binding sites were mutated. Furthermore, EV71 replication was increased by antagomirs against MIR2911 in the HS decoction, implying that MIR2911 was physiologically functional in controlling EV71 replication in vitro. These results indicated that, by targeting VP1 gene, MIR2911 may effectively inhibit EV71 replication. Our results also provide a potential novel strategy on the therapy and/or prevention of HFMD originating from EV71 virus infection.

  • Inhibition of hepatitis B virus replication via HBV DNA cleavage by Cas9 from Staphylococcus aureus
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-16
    Yu Liu, Miaoxian Zhao, Mingxing Gong, Ying Xu, Cantao Xie, Haohui Deng, Xueying Li, Hongkai Wu, Zhanhui Wang

    Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is difficult to cure due to the presence of covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). Accumulating evidence indicates that the CRISPR/Cas9 system effectively disrupts HBV genome, including cccDNA, in vitro and in vivo. However, efficient delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 system to the liver or hepatocytes using an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector remains challenging due to the large size of Cas9 from Streptococcus pyogenes (Sp). The recently identified Cas9 protein from Staphylococcus aureus (Sa) is smaller than SpCas9 and thus is able to be packaged into the AAV vector. To examine the efficacy of SaCas9 system on HBV genome destruction, we designed 5 guide RNAs (gRNAs) that targeted different HBV genotypes, 3 of which were shown to be effective. The SaCas9 system significantly reduced HBV antigen expression, as well as pgRNA and cccDNA levels, in Huh7, HepG2.2.15 and HepAD38 cells. The dual expression of gRNAs/SaCas9 in these cell lines resulted in more efficient HBV genome cleavage. In the mouse model, hydrodynamic injection of gRNA/SaCas9 plasmids resulted in significantly lower levels of HBV protein expression. We also delivered the SaCas9 system into mice with persistent HBV replication using an AAV vector. Both the AAV vector and the mRNA of Cas9 could be detected in the C3H mouse liver cells. Decreased hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), HBV DNA and pgRNA levels were observed when a higher titer of AAV was injected, although this decrease was not significantly different from the control. In summary, the SaCas9 system accurately and efficiently targeted the HBV genome and inhibited HBV replication both in vitro and in vivo. The system was delivered by an AAV vector and maybe used as a novel therapeutic strategy against chronic HBV infection.

  • Fexaramine as an entry blocker for feline caliciviruses
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-15
    Yunjeong Kim, Kyeong-Ok Chang

    Feline calicivirus (FCV) is a small non-enveloped virus containing a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA genome of approximately 7.7 kb. FCV is a highly infectious pathogen of cats and typically causes moderate, self-limiting acute oral and upper respiratory tract diseases or chronic oral diseases. In addition, in recent years, virulent, systemic FCV (vs-FCV) strains causing severe systemic diseases with a high mortality rate of up to 67% have been reported in cats. Although FCV vaccines are commercially available, their efficacy is limited due to antigenic diversity of FCV strains and short duration of immunity. In this study, we identified fexaramine as a potent inhibitor of FCV including vs-FCV strains in cell culture and demonstrated that fexaramine is a potent entry blocker for FCV by using various experiments including time-of-addition studies, generation of resistant viruses in cell culture and the reverse genetics system. A fexaramine resistant FCV mutant has a single amino acid change in the P2 domain of VP1 (the major capsid), and the importance of this mutation for conferring resistance was confirmed using the reverse genetics system. A comparative analysis of viral resistance was also performed using a peptidyl inhibitor (NPI52) targeting FCV 3C-like protease. Finally, the effects of combination treatment of fexaramine and NPI52 against FCV replication and emergence of resistant viruses were investigated in cell culture.

  • Establishment of Cre-mediated HBV recombinant cccDNA (rcccDNA) cell line for cccDNA biology and antiviral screening assays
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-09
    Min Wu, Jin Li, Lei Yue, Lu Bai, Yaming Li, Jieliang Chen, Xiaonan Zhang, Zhenghong Yuan

    Hepatitis B virus (HBV) covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA), existing in hepatocyte nuclei as a stable minichromosome, plays a central role in the life cycle of the virus and permits the persistence of infection. Despite being essential for HBV infection, little is known about the molecular mechanisms of cccDNA formation, regulation and degradation, and there is no therapeutic agents directly targeting cccDNA, fore mostly due to the lack of robust, reliable and quantifiable HBV cccDNA models. In this study, combined the Cre/loxP and sleeping beauty transposons system, we established HepG2-derived cell lines integrated with 2–60 copies of monomeric HBV genome flanked by loxP sites (HepG2-HBV/loxP). After Cre expression via adenoviral transduction, 3.3-kb recombinant cccDNA (rcccDNA) bearing a chimeric intron can be produced in the nuclei of these HepG2-HBV/loxP cells. The rcccDNA could be accurately quantified by quantitative PCR using specific primers and cccDNA pool generated in this model could be easily detected by Southern blotting using the digoxigenin probe system. We demonstrated that the rcccDNA was epigenetically organized as the natural minichromosome and served as the template supporting pgRNA transcription and viral replication. As the expression of HBV S antigen (HBsAg) is dependent on the newly generated cccDNA, HBsAg is the surrogate marker of cccDNA. Additionally, the efficacies of 3 classes of anti-HBV agents were evaluated in HepG2-HBV/loxP cells and antiviral activities with different mechanisms were confirmed. These data collectively suggested that HepG2-HBV/loxP cell system will be powerful platform for studying cccDNA related biological mechanisms and developing novel cccDNA targeting drugs.

  • In vitro susceptibility to ST-246 and Cidofovir corroborates the phylogenetic separation of Brazilian Vaccinia virus into two clades
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-07
    Mariana A. Pires, Nathália F.S. Rodrigues, Danilo B. de Oliveira, Felipe L. de Assis, Galileu B. Costa, Erna G. Kroon, Bruno E.F. Mota

    The Orthopoxvirus (OPV) genus of the Poxviridae family contains several human pathogens, including Vaccinia virus (VACV), which have been implicating in outbreaks of a zoonotic disease called Bovine Vaccinia in Brazil. So far, no approved treatment exists for OPV infections, but ST-246 and Cidofovir (CDV) are now in clinical development. Therefore, the objective of this work was to evaluate the susceptibility of five strains of Brazilian VACV (Br-VACV) to ST-246 and Cidofovir. The susceptibility of these strains to both drugs was evaluated by plaque reduction assay, extracellular virus's quantification in the presence of ST-246 and one-step growth curve in cells treated with CDV. Besides that, the ORFs F13L and E9L were sequenced for searching of polymorphisms associated with drug resistance. The effective concentration of 50% (EC50) from both drugs varies significantly for different strains (from 0.0054 to 0.051 μM for ST-246 and from 27.14 to 61.23 μM for CDV). ST-246 strongly inhibits the production of extracellular virus for all isolates in concentrations as low as 0.1 μM and it was observed a relevant decrease of progeny production for all Br-VACV after CDV treatment. Sequencing of the F13L and E9L ORFs showed that Br-VACV do not present the polymorphism(s) associated with resistance to ST-246 and CDV. Taken together, our results showed that ST-246 and CDV are effective against diverse, wild VACV strains and that the susceptibility of Br-VACV to these drugs mirrored the phylogenetic split of these isolates into two groups. Thus, both ST-246 and CDV are of great interest as compounds to treat individuals during Bovine Vaccinia outbreaks in Brazil.

  • Relevance of non-synonymous thymidine kinase mutations for antiviral resistance of recombinant herpes simplex virus type 2 strains
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-07
    Anne-Kathrin Brunnemann, Anja Hoffmann, Stefanie Deinhardt-Emmer, Claus-Henning Nagel, Ruben Rose, Helmut Fickenscher, Andreas Sauerbrei, Andi Krumbholz

    Therapy or prophylaxis of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infections with the nucleoside analog aciclovir (ACV) can lead to the emergence of drug-resistant HSV-2 strains, particularly in immunocompromised patients. In this context, multiple amino acid (aa) changes can accumulate in the ACV-converting viral thymidine kinase (TK) which hampers sequence-based diagnostics significantly. In this study, the so far unknown or still doubted relevance of several individual aa changes for drug resistance in HSV-2 was clarified. For this purpose, ten recombinant fluorescent HSV-2 strains differing in the respective aa within their TK were constructed using the bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) pHSV2(MS)Lox. Similar TK expression levels and similar replication behavior patterns were demonstrated for the mutants as compared to the unmodified BAC-derived HSV-2 strain. Subsequently, the resulting strains were tested for their susceptibility to ACV as well as penciclovir (PCV) in parallel to a modified cytopathic effect (CPE) inhibition assay and by determining the relative fluorescence intensity (quantified using units, RFU) as a measure for the viral replication capacity. While aa changes Y53N and R221H conferred ACV resistance with cross-resistance to PCV, the aa changes G25A, G39E, T131M, Y133F, G150D, A157T, R248W, and L342W maintained a susceptible phenotype against both antivirals. The CPE inhibition assay and the measurement of relative fluorescence intensity yielded comparable results for the phenotypic testing of recombinant viruses. The latter test showed some technical advantages. In conclusion, the significance of single aa changes in HSV-2 TK on ACV/PCV resistance was clarified by the construction and phenotypic testing of recombinant viral strains. This was facilitated by the fluorescence based method.

  • Phage display antibodies against ectromelia virus that neutralize variola virus: Selection and implementation for p35 neutralizing epitope mapping
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-07
    Yana Khlusevich, Andrey Matveev, Ivan Baykov, Leonid Bulychev, Nikolai Bormotov, Ivan Ilyichev, Georgiy Shevelev, Vera Morozova, Dmitrii Pyshnyi, Nina Tikunova

    In this study, five phage display antibodies (pdAbs) against ectromelia virus (ECTV) were selected from vaccinia virus (VACV)-immune phage-display library of human single chain variable fragments (scFv). ELISA demonstrated that selected pdAbs could recognize ECTV, VACV, and cowpox virus (CPXV). Atomic force microscopy visualized binding of the pdAbs to VACV. Three of the selected pdAbs neutralized variola virus (VARV) in the plaque reduction neutralization test. Western blot analysis of ECTV, VARV, VACV, and CPXV proteins indicated that neutralizing pdAbs bound orthopoxvirus 35 kDa proteins, which are encoded by the open reading frames orthologous to the ORF H3L in VACV. The fully human antibody fh1A was constructed on the base of the VH and VL domains of pdAb, which demonstrated a dose-dependent inhibition of plaque formation after infection with VARV, VACV, and CPXV. To determine the p35 region responsible for binding to neutralizing pdAbs, a panel of truncated p35 proteins was designed and expressed in Escherichia coli cells, and a minimal p35 fragment recognized by selected neutralizing pdAbs was identified. In addition, peptide phage-display combinatorial libraries were applied to localize the epitope. The obtained data indicated that the epitope responsible for recognition by the neutralizing pdAbs is discontinuous and amino acid residues located within two p35 regions, 15–19 aa and 232–237 aa, are involved in binding with neutralizing anti-p35 antibodies.

  • GS-9620 inhibits enterovirus 71 replication mainly through the NF-κB and PI3K-AKT signaling pathways
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-06
    Qian Zhang, Binbin Zhao, Xin Chen, Nan Song, Jing Wu, Guangchao Li, Pin Yu, Yunlin Han, Jiangning Liu, Chuan Qin

    Human enterovirus 71 (EV71) is the second most common cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), which can occur as a severe epidemic especially among children under 5-years old. New and improved treatment strategies to control EV71 infection are therefore urgently required. The heterocyclic compound GS-9620, a potent and selective agonist of Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7), has been reported to activate plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), and suppress HBV as well as HIV replication. In this study, we indicated that GS-9620 also could inhibit EV71 replication in the mouse model of EV71 infection. With three-days treatment after EV71 infection, the levels of proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines, like IFN-α, IFN-γ and MCP-1, were sharply reduced in serum compared to those without treatment. Furthermore, GS-9620 activated TLR7 in the limb muscle cells, which stimulated the NF-κB and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways. When NF-κB or PI3K/AKT inhibitors were used, the antiviral effect of the GS-9620 was impacted. Overall, our data implied GS-9620 probably activates NF-κB and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways to clear the virus.

  • Metal-chelating 3-hydroxypyrimidine-2,4-diones inhibit human cytomegalovirus pUL89 endonuclease activity and virus replication
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-06
    Yan Wang, Jing Tang, Zhengqiang Wang, Robert J. Geraghty
  • 2017 international meeting of the Global Virus Network
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-05
    Mike Catton, Glenda Gray, Diane Griffin, Hideki Hasegawa, Stephen Kent, Jason Mackenzie, Edward McSweegan, Natalia Mercer, Linfa Wang

    The Global Virus Network (GVN) was established in 2011 to strengthen research and responses to emerging viral causes of human disease and to prepare against new viral pandemics. There are now 40 GVN Centers of Excellence and 6 Affiliate laboratories in 24 countries. The 2017 meeting was held from September 25–27 in Melbourne, Australia, and was hosted by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and the Institut Pasteur. This report highlights the recent accomplishments of GVN researchers in several important areas of medical virology, including the recent Zika epidemic, infections by human papillomavirus, influenza, HIV, hepatitis C, HTLV-1, and chikungunya viruses, and new and emerging viruses in the Australasia region. Plans for the 2018 meeting also are noted.

  • Retinoic acid receptor β, a potential therapeutic target in the inhibition of adenovirus replication
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-05
    Xiaolong Wang, Qiling Zhang, Zhe Zhou, Manjiao Liu, Yubao Chen, Jianbo Li, Linlin Xu, Jing Guo, Qingjun Li, Jing Yang, Shengqi Wang

    Human adenoviruses (HAdVs) usually cause mild respiratory infections, but they can also lead to fatal outcomes for immunosuppressive patients. Unfortunately, there has been no specific anti-HAdV drug approved for medical use. A better understanding of the nature of virus-host interactions during infection is beneficial to the discovery of potential antiviral targets and new antiviral drugs. In this study, a time-course transcriptome analysis of HAdV-infected human lung epithelial cells (A549 cells) was performed to investigate virus–host interactions, and several key host molecules involved in the HAdV infection process were identified. The RARβ (retinoic acid receptor β) molecule, one of the upstream regulatory factors of differentially expressed genes (DEGs), played important roles in HAdV replication. The results of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blotting showed that RARβ mRNA and protein were downregulated by HAdV infection in the A549 cells. The knockdown of RARβ by RARβ siRNA increased the HAdV production and the overexpression of RARβ decreased the HAdV production. Furthermore, FDA-approved Tazarotene, which is an RAR selective agonist with relatively more selectivity for RARβ, was found to inhibit HAdV replication in vitro. Taken together, our study presents a key host molecule in adenovirus infection, which could be developed as a potential host target to an anti-adenovirus drug. In addition, this study provides evidence for the re-exploitation of an FDA-approved small molecule for therapeutic applications in adenovirus replication.

  • A novel flavanone derivative inhibits dengue virus fusion and infectivity
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-03
    Pimsiri Srivarangkul, Wanchalerm Yuttithamnon, Aphinya Suroengrit, Saran Pankaew, Kowit Hengphasatporn, Thanyada Rungrotmongkol, Preecha Phuwapriasirisan, Kiat Ruxrungtham, Siwaporn Boonyasuppayakorn

    Dengue infection is a global burden affecting millions of world population. Previous studies indicated that flavanones were potential dengue virus inhibitors. We discovered that a novel flavanone derivative, 5-hydroxy-7-methoxy-6-methylflavanone (FN5Y), inhibited DENV2 pH-dependent fusion in cell-based system with strong binding efficiency to DENV envelope protein at K (P83, L107, K128, L198), K' (T48, E49, A50, L198, Q200, L277), X' (Y138, V354, I357), and Y' (V97, R99, N103, K246) by molecular dynamic simulation. FN5Y inhibited DENV2 infectivity with EC50s (and selectivity index) of 15.99 ± 5.38 (>6.25), and 12.31 ± 1.64 (2.23) μM in LLC/MK2 and Vero cell lines, respectively, and inhibited DENV4 at 11.70 ± 6.04 (>8.55) μM. CC50s in LLC/MK2, HEK-293, and HepG2 cell lines at 72 h were higher than 100 μM. Time-of-addition study revealed that the maximal efficacy was achieved at early after infection corresponded with pH-dependent fusion. Inactivating the viral particle, interfering with cellular receptors, inhibiting viral protease, or the virus replication complex were not major targets of this compound. FN5Y could become a potent anti-flaviviral drug and can be structurally modified for higher potency using simulation to DENV envelope as a molecular target.

  • Successful treatment of Marburg virus with orally administrated T-705 (Favipiravir) in a mouse model
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-03
    Wenjun Zhu, Zirui Zhang, Shihua He, Gary Wong, Logan Banadyga, Xiangguo Qiu

    Filoviruses, such as Marburg and Ebola viruses, cause severe disease in humans with high case fatality rates and are therefore considered biological threat agents. To date, no licensed vaccine or therapeutic exists for their treatment. T-705 (favipiravir) is a pyrazinecarboxamide derivative that has shown broad antiviral activity against a number of viruses and is clinically licenced in Japan to treat influenza. Here we report the efficacy of T-705 against Marburg virus infection in vitro and in vivo. Notably, oral administration of T-705 beginning one or two days post-infection and continuing for eight days resulted in complete survival of mice that had been intraperitoneally infected with mouse-adapted Marburg virus (variant Angola). Moreover, lower doses of T-705 and higher doses administered later during infection (day 3 or 4 post-infection) showed partial efficacy, with at least half the infected mice surviving. Accordingly, we observed reductions in infectious virus particles and virus RNA levels following drug treatment that appeared to correlate with survival. Our findings suggest that T-705 may be an effective therapeutic against Marburg virus and might be especially promising for use in the event of an outbreak, where it could be orally administered quickly and safely even after exposure.

  • Antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity of budesonide against human rhinovirus infection mediated via autophagy activation
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-03
    Seong-Ryeol Kim, Jae-Hyoung Song, Jae-Hee Ahn, Geun-Shik Lee, Huijeong Ahn, Sung-il Yoon, Seung Goo Kang, Pyeung-Hyeun Kim, Sang-Min Jeon, Eun-Ji Choi, Sooyoung Shin, Younggil Cha, Sungchan Cho, Dong-eun Kim, Sun-Young Chang, Hyun-Jeong Ko

    Human rhinovirus (HRV) infection causes more than 80% of all common colds and is associated with severe complications in patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. To identify antiviral drug against HRV infection, we screened 800 FDA-approved drugs and found budesonide as one of the possible drug candidates. Budesonide is a corticosteroid, which is commonly used to prevent exacerbation of asthma and symptoms of common cold. Budesonide specifically protects host cells from cytotoxicity following HRV infection, which depend on the expression of glucocorticoid receptor. Intranasal administration of budesonide lowered the pulmonary HRV load and the levels of IL-1β cytokine leading to decreased lung inflammation. Budesonide regulates IL-1β production following HRV infection independent of inflammasome activation. Instead, budesonide induces mitochondrial reactive oxygen species followed by activation of autophagy. Further, the inhibition of autophagy following chloroquine or bafilomycin A1 treatment reduced the anti-viral effect of budesonide against HRV, suggesting that the antiviral activity of budesonide was mediated via autophagy. The results suggest that budesonide represents a promising antiviral and anti-inflammatory drug candidate for the treatment of human rhinovirus infection.

  • Modular cell-based platform for high throughput identification of compounds that inhibit a viral interferon antagonist of choice
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-10-14
    Andri Vasou, Christina Paulus, Janina Narloch, Zoe O. Gage, Marie-Anne Rameix-Welti, Jean-François Eléouët, Michael Nevels, Richard E. Randall, Catherine S. Adamson

    Viral interferon (IFN) antagonists are a diverse class of viral proteins that counteract the host IFN response, which is important for controlling viral infections. Viral IFN antagonists are often multifunctional proteins that perform vital roles in virus replication beyond IFN antagonism. The critical importance of viral IFN antagonists is highlighted by the fact that almost all viruses encode one of these proteins. Inhibition of viral IFN antagonists has the potential to exert pleiotropic antiviral effects and thus this important protein class represents a diverse plethora of novel therapeutic targets. To exploit this, we have successfully developed and executed a novel modular cell-based platform that facilitates the safe and rapid screening for inhibitors of a viral IFN antagonist of choice. The platform is based on two reporter cell-lines that provide a simple method to detect activation of IFN induction or signaling via an eGFP gene placed under the control of the IFNβ or an ISRE-containing promoter, respectively. Expression of a target IFN antagonist in the appropriate reporter cell-line will block the IFN response and hence eGFP expression. We hypothesized that addition of a compound that inhibits IFN antagonist function will release the block imposed on the IFN response and hence restore eGFP expression, providing a measurable parameter for high throughput screening (HTS). We demonstrate assay proof-of-concept by (i) exploiting hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitors to inhibit NS3-4A's capacity to block IFN induction and (ii) successfully executing two HTS targeting viral IFN antagonists that block IFN signaling; NS2 and IE1 from human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) respectively, two clinically important viruses for which vaccine development has thus far been unsuccessful and new antivirals are required. Both screens performed robustly and Z′ Factor scores of >0.6 were achieved. We identified (i) four hit compounds that specifically inhibit RSV NS2's ability to block IFN signaling by mediating STAT2 degradation and exhibit modest antiviral activity and (ii) two hit compounds that interfere with IE1 transcription and significantly impair CMV replication. Overall, we demonstrate assay proof-of-concept as we target viral IFN antagonists from unrelated viruses and demonstrate its suitability for HTS.

  • Efficacy of pritelivir and acyclovir in the treatment of herpes simplex virus infections in a mouse model of herpes simplex encephalitis
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-11-04
    Debra C. Quenelle, Alexander Birkmann, Thomas Goldner, Tamara Pfaff, Holger Zimmermann, Susanne Bonsmann, Deborah J. Collins, Terri L. Rice, Mark N. Prichard

    Pritelivir, a helicase-primase inhibitor, has excellent in vitro and in vivo activity against human herpes simplex virus (HSV). Mice lethally infected with HSV type 1 or 2, including acyclovir-resistant strains, were treated 72 h after infection for 7 days with pritelivir or acyclovir. Both drugs were administered orally twice daily either alone or in combination. Dosages of pritelivir from 0.3 to 30 mg/kg reduced mortality (P < 0.001) against HSV-1, E-377. With an acyclovir resistant HSV-1, 11360, pritelivir at 1 and 3 mg/kg increased survival (P < 0.005). With HSV-2, MS infected mice, all dosages higher than the 0.3 mg/kg dose of pritelivir were effective (P < 0.005). For acyclovir resistant HSV-2, strain 12247, pritelivir dosages of 1–3 mg/kg significantly improved survival (P < 0.0001). Combination therapies of pritelivir at 0.1 or 0.3 mg/kg/dose with acyclovir (10 mg/kg/dose) were protective (P < 0.0001) when compared to the vehicle treated group against HSV-2, strain MS (in line with previous data using HSV-1). An increased mean days to death (P < 0.05) was also observed and was indicative of a potential synergy. Pharmacokinetic studies were performed to determine pritelivir concentrations and a dose dependent relationship was found in both plasma and brain samples regardless of infection status or time of initiation of dosing. In summary, pritelivir was shown to be active when treatment was delayed to 72 h post viral inoculation and appeared to synergistically inhibit mortality in this model in combination with acyclovir. We conclude pritelivir has potent and resistance-breaking antiviral efficacy with potential for the treatment of potentially life-threatening HSV type 1 and 2 infections, including herpes simplex encephalitis.

  • Interferon lambda (IFN-λ) efficiently blocks norovirus transmission in a mouse model
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-11-10
    Joana Rocha-Pereira, Sophie Jacobs, Sam Noppen, Eric Verbeken, Thomas Michiels, Johan Neyts

    Human noroviruses are highly efficient in person to person transmission thus associated with explosive outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis. Outbreak control is limited to disinfection and isolation measures. Strategies to control the spread of noroviruses should be developed and models to study norovirus transmission will greatly facilitate this. Here, a mouse-to-mouse transmission model, in which mice develop acute murine norovirus (MNV)-induced diarrhea, was used to explore the role of interferon lambda (IFN-λ) in the control of a norovirus infection. Sentinel AG129 mice [deficient in IFN-α/β and IFN-γ receptors] that were co-housed with MNV-infected mice shedding high amounts of virus in their stool, developed a MNV-infection with associated diarrhea. Inoculation of such sentinel mice with an IFN-λ expression plasmid resulted in the production of circulating IFN-λ and upregulation of the expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) of the gut. Injection of the IFN-λ-expressing plasmid to sentinels prevents MNV-induced disease upon exposure to MNV-infected mice, as well as MNV replication in the small intestine, the associated signs of inflammation and the mounting of a specific IgG-based immune response. This demonstrates that IFN-λ can alone mediate protection against transmission of norovirus. The development of a simple delivery method for IFN-λ could be explored as a strategy to control norovirus outbreaks and protect vulnerable populations such as the elderly and immunocompromised.

  • APOBEC3B edits HBV DNA and inhibits HBV replication during reverse transcription
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-11-10
    Yanmeng Chen, Jie Hu, Xuefei Cai, Yao Huang, Xing Zhou, Zeng Tu, Jieli Hu, John E. Tavis, Ni Tang, Ailong Huang, Yuan Hu

    Hepatitis B virus is a partially double-stranded DNA virus that replicates by reverse transcription, which occurs within viral core particles in the cytoplasm. The cytidine deaminase APOBEC3B is a cellular restriction factor for HBV. Recently, it was reported that APOBEC3B can edit HBV cccDNA in the nucleus, causing its degradation. However, whether and how it can edit HBV core-associated DNAs during reverse transcription is unclear. Our studies to address this question revealed the following: First, silencing endogenous APOBEC3B in an HBV infection system lead to upregulation of HBV replication. Second, APOBEC3B can inhibit replication of HBV isolates from genotypes (gt) A, B, C, and D as determined by employing transfection of plasmids expressing isolates from four different HBV genotypes. For HBV inhibition, APOBEC3B-mediated inhibition of replication primarily depends on the C-terminal active site of APOBEC3B. In addition, employing the HBV RNaseH-deficient D702A mutant and a polymerase-deficient YMHA mutant, we demonstrated that APOBEC3B can edit both the HBV minus- and plus-strand DNAs, but not the pregenomic RNA in core particles. Furthermore, we found by co-immunoprecipitation assays that APOBEC3B can interact with HBV core protein in an RNA-dependent manner. Our results provide evidence that APOBEC3B can interact with HBV core protein and edit HBV DNAs during reverse transcription. These data suggest that APOBEC3B exerts multifaceted antiviral effects against HBV.

  • Activity of nucleic acid polymers in rodent models of HBV infection
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-11-08
    Katrin Schöneweis, Neil Motter, Pia L. Roppert, Mengji Lu, Baoju Wang, Ingo Roehl, Dieter Glebe, Dongliang Yang, John D. Morrey, Michael Roggendorf, Andrew Vaillant

    Nucleic acid polymers (NAPs) block the release of HBsAg from infected hepatocytes. These compounds have been previously shown to have the unique ability to eliminate serum surface antigen in DHBV-infected Pekin ducks and achieve multilog reduction of HBsAg or HBsAg loss in patients with chronic HBV infection and HBV/HDV coinfection. In ducks and humans, the blockage of HBsAg release by NAPs occurs by the selective targeting of the assembly and/or secretion of subviral particles (SVPs). The clinically active NAP species REP 2055 and REP 2139 were investigated in other relevant animal models of HBV infection including woodchucks chronically infected with WHV, HBV transgenic mice and HBV infected SCID-Hu mice. The liver accumulation of REP 2139 in woodchucks following subcutaneous administration was examined and was found to be similar to that observed in mice and ducks. However, in woodchucks, NAP treatment was associated with only mild (36–79% relative to baseline) reductions in WHsAg (4/10 animals) after 3–5 weeks of treatment without changes in serum WHV DNA. In HBV infected SCID-Hu mice, REP 2055 treatment was not associated with any reduction of HBsAg, HBeAg or HBV DNA in the serum after 28 days of treatment. In HBV transgenic mice, no reductions in serum HBsAg were observed with REP 2139 with up to 12 weeks of treatment. In conclusion, the antiviral effects of NAPs in DHBV infected ducks and patients with chronic HBV infection were weak or absent in woodchuck and mouse models despite similar liver accumulation of NAPs in all these species, suggesting that the mechanisms of SVP assembly and or secretion present in rodent models differs from that in DHBV and chronic HBV infections.

  • Merimepodib, an IMPDH inhibitor, suppresses replication of Zika virus and other emerging viral pathogens
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-11-08
    Xiao Tong, Jeanon Smith, Natalya Bukreyeva, Takaaki Koma, John T. Manning, Raj Kalkeri, Ann D. Kwong, Slobodan Paessler

    Zika virus (ZIKV), a member of the Flaviviridae family, has recently been linked to abnormal pregnancies, fetal death, microcephaly, and Guillain-Barré syndrome in humans. Merimepodib (MMPD, VX-497), a potent inhibitor of inosine-5′-monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH), has shown antiviral activity against HCV and a variety of DNA and RNA viruses in vitro. In this report, we expand the antiviral spectrum of MMPD, and demonstrate that MMPD inhibits ZIKV RNA replication with an EC50 of 0.6 μM. Furthermore, MMPD reduces the virus production of ZIKV as well as several other important emerging viral pathogens such as Ebola, Lassa, Chikungunya, and Junin viruses. The inhibition can be reversed by addition of exogenous guanosine to culture media, consistent with the mechanism of action of MMPD as an IMPDH inhibitor. We also provide evidence that MMPD can be used in combination with other antivirals such as ribavirin and T-705 (favipiravir) to enhance suppression of virus production.

  • Efficacy of hepatitis B virus ribonuclease H inhibitors, a new class of replication antagonists, in FRG human liver chimeric mice
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-11-10
    Kelly R. Long, Elena Lomonosova, Qilan Li, Nathan L. Ponzar, Juan A. Villa, Erin Touchette, Stephen Rapp, R. Matt Liley, Ryan P. Murelli, Alexandre Grigoryan, R. Mark Buller, Lisa Wilson, John Bial, John E. Sagartz, John E. Tavis

    Chronic hepatitis B virus infection cannot be cured by current therapies, so new treatments are urgently needed. We recently identified novel inhibitors of the hepatitis B virus ribonuclease H that suppress viral replication in cell culture. Here, we employed immunodeficient FRG KO mice whose livers had been engrafted with primary human hepatocytes to ask whether ribonuclease H inhibitors can suppress hepatitis B virus replication in vivo. Humanized FRG KO mice infected with hepatitis B virus were treated for two weeks with the ribonuclease H inhibitors #110, an α-hydroxytropolone, and #208, an N-hydroxypyridinedione. Hepatitis B virus viral titers and S and e antigen plasma levels were measured. Treatment with #110 and #208 caused significant reductions in plasma viremia without affecting hepatitis B virus S or e antigen levels, and viral titers rebounded following treatment cessation. This is the expected pattern for inhibitors of viral DNA synthesis. Compound #208 suppressed viral titers of both hepatitis B virus genotype A and C isolates. These data indicate that Hepatitis B virus replication can be suppressed during infection in an animal by inhibiting the viral ribonuclease H, validating the ribonuclease H as a novel target for antiviral drug development.

  • A virus-like particle of the hepatitis B virus preS antigen elicits robust neutralizing antibodies and T cell responses in mice
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-11-10
    Xiaodan Cai, Weihao Zheng, Shaokun Pan, Shengyuan Zhang, Youhua Xie, Haitao Guo, Guoxin Wang, Zigang Li, Ming Luo

    The preS antigen of hepatitis B virus (HBV) corresponds to the N-terminal polypeptide in the large (L) antigen in addition to the small (S) antigen. The virus-like particle (VLP) of the S antigen is widely used as a vaccine to protect the population from HBV infection. The presence of the S antigen and its antibodies in patient blood has been used as markers to monitor hepatitis B. However, there is very limited knowledge about the preS antigen. We generated a preS VLP that is formed by a chimeric protein between preS and hemagglutinin (HA), and the matrix protein M1 of influenza virus. The HBV preS antigen is displayed on the surface of preS VLP. Asn112 and Ser98 of preS in VLP were found to be glycosylated and O-glycosylation of Ser98 has not been reported previously. The preS VLP shows a significantly higher immunogenicity than recombinant preS, eliciting robust anti-preS neutralizing antibodies. In addition, preS VLP is also capable of stimulating preS-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses in Balb/c mice and HBV transgenic mice. Furthermore, preS VLP immunization provided protection against hydrodynamic transfection of HBV DNA in mice. The data clearly suggest that this novel preS VLP could elicit robust immune responses to the HBV antigen, and can be potentially developed into prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines.

  • Nsp3 of coronaviruses: Structures and functions of a large multi-domain protein
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-11-08
    Jian Lei, Yuri Kusov, Rolf Hilgenfeld

    The multi-domain non-structural protein 3 (Nsp3) is the largest protein encoded by the coronavirus (CoV) genome, with an average molecular mass of about 200 kD. Nsp3 is an essential component of the replication/transcription complex. It comprises various domains, the organization of which differs between CoV genera, due to duplication or absence of some domains. However, eight domains of Nsp3 exist in all known CoVs: the ubiquitin-like domain 1 (Ubl1), the Glu-rich acidic domain (also called “hypervariable region”), a macrodomain (also named “X domain”), the ubiquitin-like domain 2 (Ubl2), the papain-like protease 2 (PL2pro), the Nsp3 ectodomain (3Ecto, also called “zinc-finger domain”), as well as the domains Y1 and CoV-Y of unknown functions. In addition, the two transmembrane regions, TM1 and TM2, exist in all CoVs. The three-dimensional structures of domains in the N-terminal two thirds of Nsp3 have been investigated by X-ray crystallography and/or nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy since the outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in 2003 as well as Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012. In this review, the structures and functions of these domains of Nsp3 are discussed in depth.

  • Antifungal azoles itraconazole and posaconazole exhibit potent in vitro antiviral activity against clinical isolates of parechovirus A3 (Picornaviridae)
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-11-15
    Eric Rhoden, W. Allan Nix, William C. Weldon, Rangaraj Selvarangan

    Parechovirus A3 (Par-A3, formerly human parechovirus 3) is an emerging viral infection of the central nervous system in children. We used an automated, homogeneous, cell based assay to identify itraconazole and posaconazole as inhibitors of Par-A3, with antiviral activity below concentrations clinically attainable in pediatric patients. Currently, there is no approved antiviral treatment for Par-A3 infection, despite numerous reports of serious Par-A3 disease in neonates and infants.

  • Raltegravir blocks the infectivity of red-fluorescent-protein (mCherry)-labeled HIV-1JR-FL in the setting of post-exposure prophylaxis in NOD/SCID/Jak3−/− mice transplanted with human PBMCs
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-09-08
    Hiromi Ogata-Aoki, Nobuyo Higashi-Kuwata, Shin-ichiro Hattori, Hironori Hayashi, Matthew Danish, Manabu Aoki, Chiemi Shiotsu, Yumi Hashiguchi, Akinobu Hamada, Hisataka Kobayashi, Hironobu Ihn, Seiji Okada, Hiroaki Mitsuya

    Employing NOD/SCID/Jak3−/− mice transplanted with human PBMCs (hNOJ mice) and replication-competent, red-fluorescent-protein (mCherry; mC)-labeled HIV-1JR-FL (HIVmC), we examined whether early antiretroviral treatment blocked the establishment of HIV-1 infection. The use of hNOJ mice and HIVmC enabled us to visually locate infection foci and to examine the early dynamics of HIVmC infection without using a large amount of antiretroviral unlike in non-human primate models. Although when raltegravir (RAL) administration was begun 1 day after intraperitoneal (ip) inoculation of HIVmC, no plasma p24 or plasma HIV-1-RNA (pRNA) were detected in 10 of 12 hNOJ (hNOJmCRAL+) mice as assessed on the last day of the 14-day continuous twice-daily RAL administration, all 10 untreated hNOJmC (hNOJmCRAL−) mice became positive for p24 and pRNA and had significantly swollen lymph nodes in peritoneal cavity and abundant p24+/mC+/CD3+/CD4+ T cells and p24+/mC+/CD68+ monocytes/macrophages were identified in their omenta and mesenteric lymphoid tissues/lymph nodes upon necropsy of the mice on day 14. In 12 hNOJmCRAL+ mice, no significantly swollen lymph nodes were seen compared to hNOJmCRAL− mice; however, in the omentum of the 2 hNOJmCRAL+ mice that were positive for pRNA and in site RNA, mC+/p24+/CD3+/CD83+ cells were identified, suggesting that viral breakthrough occurred later in the observation period. The present data suggest that the use of hNOJ mouse model and HIVmC may shed light on the study of early-phase dynamics of HIV-1 infection and cellular events in post-exposure/pre-exposure prophylaxis.

  • Infection of neuroblastoma cells by rabies virus is modulated by the virus titer
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-11-06
    Natalia Langenfeld Fuoco, Sandriana dos Ramos Silva, Elaine Raniero Fernandes, Fernanda Guedes Luiz, Orlando Garcia Ribeiro, Iana Suly Santos Katz

    Rabies is a lethal viral infection that can affect almost all mammals, including humans. To better understand the replication of Rabies lyssavirus, we investigated if the viral load in brains naturally infected with rabies influences viral internalization and viral growth kinetics in neuroblastoma cells, and if the viral load affects mortality in mice after intradermal infection. We noted that high initial viral loads in brains (group II) were unfavourable for increasing viral titers during serial passages in neuroblastoma cells when compared to low initial viral loads in brains (group I). In addition, group I strains showed higher viral growth and enhanced internalization efficiency in neuroblastoma cells than group II strains. However, we observed that the dominant virus subpopulation in group II promoted efficient viral infection in the central nervous system in the new host, providing a selective advantage to the virus. Our data indicate that rabies infection in animal models depends on not only the virus strain but also the amount of virus. This study may serve as a basis for understanding the biologic proprieties of Rabies lyssavirus strains with respect to the effects on viral replication and the impact on pathogenesis, improving virus yields for use in vaccine development.

  • Design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of novel 7-deazapurine nucleoside derivatives as potential anti-dengue virus agents
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-11-10
    Cai Lin, Jianchen Yu, Muzammal Hussain, Yiqian Zhou, Anna Duan, Weiqi Pan, Jie Yuan, Jiancun Zhang

    Dengue fever, caused by four distinct serotypes of dengue virus (DENV-1 to -4), has become the fastest spreading human infectious disease in recent years. Despite extensive efforts, there is no specific antiviral treatment approved for dengue until now. Nucleoside inhibitors represent an actively pursued area to develop small-molecule anti-dengue virus agents. In this study, we designed and synthesized a series of 7-deazapurine nucleoside derivatives and evaluated their anti-DENV activity. Our design strategy and structure activity relationship studies revealed 6e as the most potent inhibitor (EC50 = 2.081 ± 1.102 μM) of DENV replication. 6e suppressed RNA levels and DENV E protein expression, without causing any apparent cytotoxicity in A549 and HepG2 cells (CC50 = 150.06 ± 11.42 μM, SI = 72.11 in A549 cells, and CC50 = 146.47 ± 11.05 μM and SI = 63.7 in HepG2 cells). In addition, 6e showed similar inhibition potency against four serotypes of DENV, suggesting that it restrains some evolutionarily conserved targets essential for DENV replication. We conceive that 6e may serve as a promising lead compound for anti-DENV drug development.

  • Protective effect of an alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist against enterovirus 71 infection in neuronal cells
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-10-10
    Feng Xia Song, Lin Qing Zhao, Ru Nan Zhu, Qin Wei Song, Jie Deng, Run Tian, Fang Wang, Yuan Qian

    Enterovirus 71, as one of the dominant pathogens associated with severe hand, foot, and mouth disease, has been well reported to trigger severe neurological symptoms among young children over the last decade, particularly among children in the Asia-Pacific region. To date, no effective antiviral agent has been developed for the treatment of severe enterovirus 71 infection. PNU-282987, a selective alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7nAChR) agonist, has been reported to have a neuroprotective effect by participating in inflammatory regulation in previous studies. Therefore, in the present study, we aimed to assess the cell-protective effect of PNU-282987 against enterovirus 71 infection in neuronal cells, and to discuss potential mechanisms underlying this cell-protective effect in order to elucidate the potential impact of such agonists in the treatment of neurotropic viral infection. We observed that treatment with PNU-282987 improved cell viability and inhibited viral replication in enterovirus 71-infected SH-SY5Y cells. Further investigation revealed that inhibition of enterovirus 71 production by PNU-282987 is likely associated with events of RNA replication, and that increased levels of INF mRNA and its downstream antiviral proteins stimulated by the JAK-STAT2 pathway may contribute to the antiviral effect of PNU-282987. Moreover, our findings suggest that both the antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects of PNU-282987 may contribute to the neural protective effect of the drug in enterovirus 71-infected cells. Taken together, the results suggest that selective α7nAChR agonists may represent viable candidates for future therapeutic treatment of severe enterovirus 71 infection, and for other cases of neurotropic viral infection.

  • Antiviral treatment efficiently inhibits chikungunya virus infection in the joints of mice during the acute but not during the chronic phase of the infection
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-09-25
    Rana Abdelnabi, Dirk Jochmans, Erik Verbeken, Johan Neyts, Leen Delang

    Favipiravir (T-705) is a broad spectrum antiviral which has been approved in Japan for the treatment of severe influenza virus infections. We reported earlier that favipiravir inhibits the in vitro replication of CHIKV and protects against disease progression in CHIKV-infected immunodeficient mice. We here explored whether favipiravir is also able to inhibit CHIKV replication in the joints of mice either when treatment is initiated during the acute or during the chronic phase of the infection. To this end, C57BL/6J mice were infected with CHIKV in the left hind footpad and treatment with favipiravir (300 mg/kg/day, orally) was either given from day 0 to day 3 post-infection (p.i.) or from day 49 to day 55 p.i. In the untreated mice, viral RNA was still detectable in the joints up to 98 days p.i., yet no infectious viral particles were observed in these tissues. The 4 days treatment during the acute phase of the infection resulted in complete inhibition of systemic viral spread. As a consequence, no viral RNA was detected in the non-inoculated feet in contrast to the situation in the untreated control mice. When treatment was initiated at day 49 p.i., no significant reduction in viral RNA levels in joints were noted as compared to the untreated control. Interestingly, when attempting to amplify by RT-PCR material corresponding to virus genome from the chronic phase samples, some parts of the genome, such as the viral polymerase gene could not be amplified. Collectively, these results suggest that the viral RNA detected in the joints during the chronic phase is likely defective, which also explains the lack of effect of a viral replication inhibitor.

  • Novel secondary mutations C56S and G149A confer resistance to HIV-1 integrase strand transfer inhibitors
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-02-01
    Tomokazu Yoshinaga, Takahiro Seki, Shigeru Miki, Tadashi Miyamoto, Akemi Suyama-Kagitani, Shinobu Kawauchi-Miki, Masanori Kobayashi, Akihiko Sato, Eugene Stewart, Mark Underwood, Tamio Fujiwara

    Cabotegravir (CAB, S/GSK1265744) is an investigational second-generation integrase strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI) with a chemical structure similar to dolutegravir. CAB is under development as a long-acting injectable formulation for treatment of HIV-1 infection and for pre-exposure prophylaxis. We conducted an in vitro passage study of raltegravir- or elvitegravir-resistant signature mutants in the presence of CAB to characterize the resistance profile of this drug. During passage with Q148H virus, G140S arose by day 14, followed by G149A and C56S. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we obtained HIV molecular clones containing mutations encoding C56S and G149A in the integrase-coding region. Those substitutions were characterized in vitro as INSTI-resistance-associated secondary resistance mutations. Signature mutant viruses G140S/Q148H in which C56S and G149A were added acquired further INSTI resistance in conjunction with diminished integration activity, which yielded slower growth under drug-free conditions.

  • Establishment of intracellular tenofovir-diphosphate as the key determinant for in vitro-in vivo translation of antiviral efficacy
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-01-11
    Bennett Ma, Aline Barth, Carolyn M. McHale, Ming-Tain Lai

    In vitro evaluation of tenofovir disproxil fumarate (TDF) and tenofovir alafenamide (TAF) revealed comparable antiviral effects with respect to the tenofovir-diphosphate (TFV-DP) level in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), despite the EC50 values determined based on prodrug concentrations were nearly two orders of magnitude apart. In vivo EC50 obtained from meta-analyses were in good agreement with the in vitro results, indicating intracellular TFV-DP can be employed for in vitro-in vivo translation of viral inhibition for tenofovir prodrugs. Current analysis indicated that the intracellular concentrations of TFV-DP achieving maximal antiviral effect in vitro can be directly translatable in the clinic to accomplish maximal viral load suppression attainable by tenofovir-prodrugs.

  • Synergy evaluation of anti-Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 and 2 compounds acting on different steps of virus life cycle
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-01-31
    Elena Criscuolo, Nicola Clementi, Nicasio Mancini, Roberto Burioni, Marco Miduri, Matteo Castelli, Massimo Clementi

    Despite the clinical need of novel and safe anti-herpetic compounds effective for treating both primary infections and reactivations of Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2), the development of novel antivirals approved for clinical administration has been limited in the last decades to improvements of nucleoside analogues compounds. In this context, targeting different steps of the herpesvirus life cycle, including entry and cell-to-cell infection, can represent an important starting point for obtaining more efficient infection inhibition, and for overcoming both drug resistance and toxicity. Under these perspectives, testing possible synergy between drugs currently in clinical use and novel immunotherapeutics, such as neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies, represents a fascinating option. In the study here described we tested for the first-time possible combinations of inhibitors of Herpesvirus DNA synthesis and a human neutralizing IgG able to block also cell-to-cell infection, by analysing experimental results with different mathematical models. The present study clearly highlights the synergism between all anti-herpetic drugs tested in combination with the mAb; this strongly suggests possible reduction of anti-herpetic drugs combined with the IgG for overcoming drug-related side effects, as indicated by Drug Reduction Index.

  • Utility of ultra-deep sequencing for detection of varicella-zoster virus antiviral resistance mutations
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-01-12
    Mélanie Mercier-Darty, David Boutolleau, Raphaël Lepeule, Christophe Rodriguez, Sonia Burrel

    We report the first application of ultra-deep sequencing (UDS) to varicella-zoster virus (VZV) genotypic antiviral testing in a case of acyclovir-resistant VZV infection initially detected by Sanger sequencing within a deeply immunocompromised heart transplant recipient. As added-value compared to Sanger analysis, UDS revealed complex dynamics of viral population under antiviral pressure. Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a ubiquitous human herpesvirus affecting populations worldwide. VZV is commonly acquired in youth whose primary infection usually manifests as benign varicella (chickenpox). After the initial infection, the virus establishes lifelong latency in sensory ganglia leading to a risk of subsequent reactivation. Reactivation usually results in the development of localized herpes zoster (HZ) lesions, a painful skin rash commonly known as shingles (Cohen, 2013). The incidence and severity of HZ increase with impaired specific cell-mediated immunity mainly as a result of increasing age, malignancy, immunodeficiency, organ transplantation, or immunosuppressive drug therapy (Cohen, 2013; Koo et al., 2014; Pavlopoulou et al., 2015). In particular, HZ remains a significant cause of morbidity among solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients, especially in patients undergoing heart transplantation (HT) compared with liver, kidney, or lung transplant recipients (Carby et al., 2007; Koo et al., 2014; Pavlopoulou et al., 2015). These particular individuals are at increased risk of primary infection, reactivation followed by dissemination with visceral involvement and associated with bacterial superinfection, and chronic recurrences (Cohen, 2013). VZV infections may also engender debilitating neuralgia among highly immunocompromised patients (Sampathkumar et al., 2009). HT is also associated with the risk of reactivation of other latent viruses belonging to the Herpesviridae family as herpes simplex virus (HSV). Currently licensed drugs to prevent or to cure HSV- or VZV-associated diseases target the viral DNA polymerase (Pol). Acyclovir (ACV) and its prodrug valacyclovir (VACV) are considered as the first-line therapy, whereas foscarnet (FOS) or cidofovir (CDV) constitute alternative options. After primophosphorylation by the viral thymidine kinase (TK), ACV targets the viral DNA polymerase and inhibits the viral genome replication by a chain termination mechanism. According to this mechanism of action, viral mutations conferring resistance to ACV have been mapped both in TK and Pol encoding genes. Viral mutations conferring resistance to FOS and CDV are only detected in Pol gene. VZV ACV-resistance is mostly mediated by TK alterations, consisting in either translational frameshifts, sometimes associated with premature stop codon, or amino acid substitutions. In the remaining cases, amino acid substitutions are detected within Pol (De et al., 2015; Piret and Boivin, 2014). Classically, Sanger sequencing has been recognized as the gold standard for the detection of drug resistance mutations (DRMs) within VZV TK and Pol genes (Perrier et al., 2016; Piret and Boivin, 2014). However, this approach cannot detect minor variants present at a frequency below 20%. Ultra-deep sequencing (UDS) has an enhanced sensitivity compared to Sanger method and allows quantitative evaluation of the viral mutants (Chin et al., 2013). We report here a case of VZV resistant infection in an HT recipient. Our retrospective study aimed at showing the utility of UDS for DRM detection as a complement of Sanger method.

  • CD163 knockout pigs are fully resistant to highly pathogenic porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-01-11
    Huaqiang Yang, Jian Zhang, Xianwei Zhang, Junsong Shi, Yongfei Pan, Rong Zhou, Guoling Li, Zicong Li, Gengyuan Cai, Zhenfang Wu

    Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) causes severe economic losses to current swine production worldwide. Highly pathogenic PRRSV (HP-PRRSV), originated from a genotype 2 PRRSV, is more virulent than classical PRRSV and further exacerbates the economic impact. HP-PRRSV has become the predominant circulating field strain in China since 2006. CD163 is a cellular receptor for PRRSV. The depletion of CD163 whole protein or SRCR5 region (interaction site for the virus) confers resistance to infection of several PRRSV isolates in pigs or cultured host cells. In this study, we described the generation of a CD163 knockout (KO) pig in which the CD163 protein was ablated by using CRISPR/Cas9 gene targeting and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technologies. Challenge with HP-PRRSV TP strain showed that CD163 KO pigs are completely resistant to viral infection manifested by the absence of viremia, antibody response, high fever or any other PRRS-associated clinical signs. By comparison, wild-type (WT) controls displayed typical signs of PRRSV infection and died within 2 weeks after infection. Deletion of CD163 showed no adverse effects to the macrophages on immunophenotyping and biological activity as hemoglobin–haptoglobin scavenger. The results demonstrated that CD163 knockout confers full resistance to HP-PRRSV infection to pigs without impairing the biological function associated with the gene.

  • Identification of novel antivirals inhibiting recognition of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus capsid protein by the Importin α/β1 heterodimer through high-throughput screening
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-01-11
    David R. Thomas, Lindsay Lundberg, Chelsea Pinkham, Sharon Shechter, Aaron Debono, Jonathan Baell, Kylie M. Wagstaff, Caroline A. Hick, Kylene Kehn-Hall, David A. Jans

    Although the alphavirus Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) has been the cause of multiple outbreaks resulting in extensive human and equine mortality and morbidity, there are currently no anti-VEEV therapeutics available. VEEV pathogenicity is largely dependent on targeting of the viral capsid protein (CP) to the host cell nucleus through the nuclear transporting importin (Imp) α/β1 heterodimer. Here we perform a high-throughput screen, combined with nested counterscreens to identify small molecules able to inhibit the Impα/β1:CP interaction for the first time. Several compounds were able to significantly reduce viral replication in infected cells. Compound G281-1564 in particular could inhibit VEEV replication at low μM concentration, while showing minimal toxicity, with steady state and dynamic quantitative microscopic measurements confirming its ability to inhibit CP nuclear import. This study establishes the principle that inhibitors of CP nucleocytoplasmic trafficking can have potent antiviral activity against VEEV, and represents a platform for future development of safe anti-VEEV compounds with high efficacy and specificity.

  • Zika, dengue and yellow fever viruses induce differential anti-viral immune responses in human monocytic and first trimester trophoblast cells
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-01-10
    Huanle Luo, Evandro R. Winkelmann, Ildefonso Fernandez-Salas, Li Li, Sandra V. Mayer, Rogelio Daniz-Lozano, Rosa Ma Sanchez-Casas, Nikos Vasilakis, Robert Tesh, Alan D. Barrett, Scott C. Weaver, Tian Wang

    Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus associated with severe neonatal birth defects, but the causative mechanism is incompletely understood. ZIKV shares sequence homology and early clinical manifestations with yellow fever virus (YFV) and dengue virus (DENV) and are all transmitted in urban cycles by the same species of mosquitoes. However, YFV and DENV have been rarely reported to cause congenital diseases. Here, we compared infection with a contemporary ZIKV strain (FSS13025) to YFV17D and DENV-4 in human monocytic cells (THP-1) and first-trimester trophoblasts (HTR-8). Our results suggest that all three viruses have similar tropisms for both cells. Nevertheless, ZIKV induced strong type 1 IFN and inflammatory cytokine and chemokine production in monocytes and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Furthermore, ZIKV infection in trophoblasts induced lower IFN and higher inflammatory immune responses. Placental inflammation is known to contribute to the risk of brain damage in preterm newborns. Inhibition of toll-like receptor (TLR)3 and TLR8 each abrogated the inflammatory cytokine responses in ZIKV-infected trophoblasts. Our findings identify a potential link between maternal immune activation and ZIKV-induced congenital diseases, and a potential therapeutic strategy that targets TLR-mediated inflammatory responses in the placenta.

  • A novel double-antigen sandwich ELISA for the species-independent detection of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus-specific antibodies
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-01-09
    Miriam A. Sas, Loic Comtet, Fabien Donnet, Marc Mertens, Zati Vatansever, Noel Tordo, Philippe Pourquier, Martin H. Groschup

    Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a tick-borne disease in humans caused by the CCHF virus (CCHFV). The detection of anti-CCHFV antibodies in animals is used to reveal infection risk areas. Therefore a simple, quick and reliable multispecies assay for the detection of CCHFV-specific antibodies is needed. This work presents the development and validation of a novel CCHF double-antigen ELISA for the detection of anti-CCHFV nucleoprotein antibodies. The test requires 30 μl of serum, and results are obtained within 90 min. As the ELISA is based on recombinant N-protein of the IbAr10200 virus, it can be run under standard biosafety conditions. For assay validation, sera from 95 cattle and 176 small ruminants from CCHF-endemic regions (origin: Albania, Cameroon, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Turkey) served as a positive reference serum panel. The CCHF antibody status of the positive reference samples had been previously confirmed by two serological assays (species-adapted VectorBest ELISA and Euroimmun IFA). CCHFV strains belonging to three different clades are known to circulate in the countries where the positive samples originated. Sera from 402 cattle and 804 small ruminants from Germany and France served as the negative serum panel, as both countries are considered outside of the CCHFV endemic zone. Sera from monkeys, camels, rats, ferrets, raccoon dogs, raccoons, foxes, hares, pigs and humans were also tested, to determine the suitability of this novel ELISA for these species. All negative reference sera were confirmed by the CCHF double-antigen ELISA, indicating a specificity of 100%. 268 of 271 positive reference sera tested positive for CCHFV-specific antibodies, 8sensitivity of 99%9. Further analysis are needed to ensure a recognition of the IbAr10200 nucleoprotein by antibodies directed against all known CCHFV clades. This is planned to be realized with sera from other regions covering the three missing clades.

  • The role of adjuvant immunomodulatory agents for treatment of severe influenza
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-01-08
    David S. Hui, Nelson Lee, Paul K. Chan, John H. Beigel

    A severe inflammatory immune response with hypercytokinemia occurs in patients hospitalized with severe influenza, such as avian influenza A(H5N1), A(H7N9), and seasonal A(H1N1)pdm09 virus infections. The role of immunomodulatory therapy is unclear as there have been limited published data based on randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Passive immunotherapy such as convalescent plasma and hyperimmune globulin have some studies demonstrating benefit when administered as an adjunctive therapy for severe influenza. Triple combination of oseltamivir, clarithromycin, and naproxen for severe influenza has one study supporting its use, and confirmatory studies would be of great interest. Likewise, confirmatory studies of sirolimus without concomitant corticosteroid therapy should be explored as a research priority. Other agents with potential immunomodulating effects, including non-immune intravenous immunoglobulin, N-acetylcysteine, acute use of statins, macrolides, pamidronate, nitazoxanide, chloroquine, antiC5a antibody, interferons, human mesenchymal stromal cells, mycophenolic acid, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors agonists, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, mesalazine, herbal medicine, and the role of plasmapheresis and hemoperfusion as rescue therapy have supportive preclinical or observational clinical data, and deserve more investigation preferably by RCTs. Systemic corticosteroids administered in high dose may increase the risk of mortality and morbidity in patients with severe influenza and should not be used, while the clinical utility of low dose systemic corticosteroids requires further investigation.

  • Lipase inhibitor orlistat prevents hepatitis B virus infection by targeting an early step in the virus life cycle
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-01-05
    Knud Esser, Julie Lucifora, Jochen Wettengel, Katrin Singethan, Almut Glinzer, Alma Zernecke, Ulrike Protzer

    Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) is a strictly hepatotropic pathogen which is very efficiently targeted to the liver and into its host cell, the hepatocyte. The sodium taurocholate co-transporting polypeptide (NTCP) has been identified as a key virus entry receptor, but the early steps in the virus life cycle are still only barely understood. Here, we investigated the effect of lipase inhibition and lipoprotein uptake on HBV infection using differentiated HepaRG cells and primary human hepatocytes. We found that an excess of triglyceride rich lipoprotein particles in vitro diminished HBV infection and a reduced hepatic virus uptake in vivo if apolipoprotein E is lacking indicating virus transport along with lipoproteins to target hepatocytes. Moreover, we showed that HBV infection of hepatocytes was inhibited by the broadly active lipase inhibitor orlistat, approved as a therapeutic agent which blocks neutral lipid hydrolysis activity. Orlistat treatment targets HBV infection at a post-entry step and inhibited HBV infection during virus inoculation strongly in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, orlistat had no effect on HBV gene expression or replication or when added after HBV infection. Taken together, our data indicate that HBV connects to the hepatotropic lipoprotein metabolism and that inhibition of cellular hepatic lipase(s) may allow to target early steps of HBV infection.

  • Filovirus proteins for antiviral drug discovery: Structure/function of proteins involved in assembly and budding
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2018-01-02
    Baptiste Martin, Olivier Reynard, Viktor Volchkov, Etienne Decroly

    There are no approved medications for the treatment of Marburg or Ebola virus infection. In two previous articles (Martin et al., 2016, Martin et al., 2017), we reviewed surface glycoprotein and replication proteins structure/function relationship to decipher the molecular mechanisms of filovirus life cycle and identify antiviral strategies. In the present article, we recapitulate knowledge about the viral proteins involved in filovirus assembly and budding. First we describe the structural data available for viral proteins associated with virus assembly and virion egress and then, we integrate the structural features of these proteins in the functional context of the viral replication cycle. Finally, we summarize recent advances in the development of innovative antiviral strategies to target filovirus assembly and egress. The development of such prophylactic or post-exposure treatments could help controlling future filovirus outbreaks.

  • A high throughput screen identifies benzoquinoline compounds as inhibitors of Ebola virus replication
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-12-30
    Priya Luthra, Jue Liang, Colette A. Pietzsch, Sudip Khadka, Megan R. Edwards, Shuguang Wei, Sampriti De, Bruce Posner, Alexander Bukreyev, Joseph M. Ready, Christopher F. Basler

    Ebola virus (EBOV) is an enveloped negative-sense, single-stranded RNA virus of the filovirus family that causes severe disease in humans. Approved therapies for EBOV disease are lacking. EBOV RNA synthesis is carried out by a virus-encoded complex with RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity that is required for viral propagation. This complex and its activities are therefore potential antiviral targets. To identify potential lead inhibitors of EBOV RNA synthesis, a library of small molecule compounds was screened against a previously established assay of EBOV RNA synthesis, the EBOV minigenome (MG) assay, in 384 well microplate format. The screen identified 56 hits that inhibited EBOV MG activity by more than 70% while exhibiting less than 20% cell cytotoxicity. Inhibitory chemical scaffolds included angelicin derivatives, derivatives of the antiviral compound GSK983 and benzoquinolines. Structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies of the benzoquinoline scaffold produced ∼50 analogs and led to identification of an optimized compound, SW456, with a submicromolar IC50 in the EBOV MG assay and antiviral activity against infectious EBOV in cell culture. The compound was also active against a MG assay for another deadly filovirus, Marburg virus. It also exhibited antiviral activity towards a negative-sense RNA virus from the rhabdovirus family, vesicular stomatitis virus, and a positive-sense RNA virus, Zika virus. Overall, these data demonstrate the potential of the EBOV MG assay to identify anti-EBOV leads and identifies the benzoquinoline series as a broad-spectrum antiviral lead.

  • Intracellular conversion and in vivo dose response of favipiravir (T-705) in rodents infected with Ebola virus
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-12-28
    Sandra L. Bixler, Thomas M. Bocan, Jay Wells, Kelly Wetzel, Sean Van Tongeren, Nicole Lackemeyer, Ginger Donnelly, Lisa Cazares, Veronica Soloveva, Lisa Welch, Carol Epstein, Li-Fang Liang, Dennis Giesing, Robert Lenk, Sina Bavari, Travis K. Warren

    During the 2013–2016 Ebola virus (EBOV) outbreak in West Africa, our team at USAMRIID evaluated the antiviral activity of a number of compounds, including favipiravir (T-705), in vitro and in mouse and nonhuman primate (NHP) models of Ebola virus disease. In this short communication, we present our findings for favipiravir in cell culture and in mice, while an accompanying paper presents the results of NHP studies. We confirmed previous reports that favipiravir has anti-EBOV activity in mice. Additionally, we found that the active form of favipiravir is generated in mice in tissues relevant for the pathogenesis of EBOV infection. Finally, we observed that protection can be achieved in mice down to 8 mg/kg/day, which is lower than the dosing regimens previously reported. An accompanying paper reports the results of treating nonhuman primates infected with EBOV or with Marburg virus with oral or intravenous favipiravir.

  • Efficacy of favipiravir (T-705) in nonhuman primates infected with Ebola virus or Marburg virus
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-12-28
    Sandra L. Bixler, Thomas M. Bocan, Jay Wells, Kelly Wetzel, Sean Van Tongeren, Lian Dong, Nicole Lackemeyer, Ginger Donnelly, Lisa Cazares, Jonathan Nuss, Veronica Soloveva, Keith Koistinen, Lisa Welch, Carol Epstein, Li-Fang Liang, Dennis Giesing, Robert Lenk, Sina Bavari, Travis K. Warren

    Favipiravir is a broad-spectrum antiviral agent that has demonstrated efficacy against Ebola virus (EBOV) in rodents. However, there are no published reports of favipiravir efficacy for filovirus infection of nonhuman primates (NHPs). Here we evaluated the pharmacokinetic profile of favipiravir in NHPs, as well as in vivo efficacy against two filoviruses, EBOV and Marburg virus (MARV). While no survival benefit was observed in two studies employing once- or twice-daily oral dosing of favipiravir during EBOV infection of NHPs, an antiviral effect was observed in terms of extended time-to-death and reduced levels of viral RNA. However, oral dosing in biosafety level-4 (BSL4) presents logistical and technical challenges, and repeated anesthesia events may potentially worsen survival outcome in animals. For the third study of treatment of MARV infection, we therefore made use of catheters, jackets, and tethers for intravenous (IV) dosing and blood collection, which minimized the requirement for repeated anesthesia events. When MARV infection was treated with IV favipiravir, five of six animals (83%) survived infection, while all untreated NHPs died. An accompanying report presents the results of favipiravir treatment of EBOV infection in mice.

  • Disulfiram can inhibit MERS and SARS coronavirus papain-like proteases via different modes
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-12-28
    Min-Han Lin, David C. Moses, Chih-Hua Hsieh, Shu-Chun Cheng, Yau-Hung Chen, Chiao-Yin Sun, Chi-Yuan Chou

    Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) emerged in southern China in late 2002 and caused a global outbreak with a fatality rate around 10% in 2003. Ten years later, a second highly pathogenic human CoV, MERS-CoV, emerged in the Middle East and has spread to other countries in Europe, North Africa, North America and Asia. As of November 2017, MERS-CoV had infected at least 2102 people with a fatality rate of about 35% globally, and hence there is an urgent need to identify antiviral drugs that are active against MERS-CoV. Here we show that a clinically available alcohol-aversive drug, disulfiram, can inhibit the papain-like proteases (PLpros) of MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. Our findings suggest that disulfiram acts as an allosteric inhibitor of MERS-CoV PLpro but as a competitive (or mixed) inhibitor of SARS-CoV PLpro. The phenomenon of slow-binding inhibition and the irrecoverability of enzyme activity after removing unbound disulfiram indicate covalent inactivation of SARS-CoV PLpro by disulfiram, while synergistic inhibition of MERS-CoV PLpro by disulfiram and 6-thioguanine or mycophenolic acid implies the potential for combination treatments using these three clinically available drugs.

  • Development of a replicon cell line-based high throughput antiviral assay for screening inhibitors of Zika virus
    Antivir. Res. (IF 4.271) Pub Date : 2017-12-27
    Jia-Qi Li, Cheng-Lin Deng, Dayong Gu, Xiao Li, Lei Shi, Jian'an He, Qiu-Yan Zhang, Bo Zhang, Han-Qing Ye

    Zika virus (ZIKV) is an important emerging human pathogen associated with microcephaly, Guillain-Barré syndrome and meningoencephalitis. Developing rapid and reliable HTS assay is important for ZIKV drug discovery. Here, we constructed a dicistronic ZIKV replicon (ZIKV-Pac-Rluc-Rep) that contained the Renilla luciferase (Rluc) reporter gene separated from the puromycin N-acetyl-transferase (Pac) selectable marker by a short peptide cleavage site. A clonal replicon cell line stably expressing high level of ZIKV replicon was established by selection with puromycin. By optimizing cell number, compound concentration and incubation time, a robust replicon cell-based HTS assay was developed with a calculated Z′ value of >0.5. The fully optimized assay was further validated using several known flavivirus replication inhibitors. Altogether, the replicon cell-based HTS assay developed in this study will facilitate the discovery of antiviral compounds against ZIKV.

Some contents have been Reproduced with permission of the American Chemical Society.
Some contents have been Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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