Direct Binding of a Hepatitis C Virus Inhibitor to the Viral Capsid Protein
by Smitha Kota, Virginia Takahashi, Feng Ni, John K. Snyder, A. Donny Strosberg
Over 130 million people are infected chronically with hepatitis C virus (HCV), which, together with HBV, is the leading cause of liver disease. Novel small molecule inhibitors of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) are needed to complement or replace current treatments based on pegylated interferon and ribavirin, which are only partially successful and plagued with side-effects. Assembly of the virion is initiated by the oligomerization of core, the capsid protein, followed by the interaction with NS5A and other HCV proteins. By screening for inhibitors of core dimerization, we previously discovered peptides and drug-like compounds that disrupt interactions between core and other HCV proteins, NS3 and NS5A, and block HCV production. Here we report that a biotinylated derivative of SL209, a prototype small molecule inhibitor of core dimerization (IC50 of 2.80 µM) that inhibits HCV production with an EC50 of 3.20 µM, is capable of penetrating HCV-infected cells and tracking with core. Interaction between the inhibitors, core and other viral proteins was demonstrated by SL209–mediated affinity-isolation of HCV proteins from lysates of infected cells, or of the corresponding recombinant HCV proteins. SL209-like inhibitors of HCV core may form the basis of novel treatments of Hepatitis C in combination with other target-specific HCV drugs such as inhibitors of the NS3 protease, the NS5B polymerase, or the NS5A regulatory protein. More generally, our work supports the hypothesis that inhibitors of viral capsid formation might constitute a new class of potent antiviral agents, as was recently also shown for HIV capsid inhibitors.
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Syndicated from:PLoS ONE
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