Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Antivir Chem Chemother. 2000 Jan;11(1):1-22.

The herpesvirus proteases as targets for antiviral chemotherapy.

Author information

  • 1Department of Antiviral Research, Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, PA 19486, USA.


Viruses of the family Herpesviridae are responsible for a diverse set of human diseases. The available treatments are largely ineffective, with the exception of a few drugs for treatment of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections. For several members of this DNA virus family, advances have been made recently in the biochemistry and structural biology of the essential viral protease, revealing common features that may be possible to exploit in the development of a new class of anti-herpesvirus agents. The herpesvirus proteases have been identified as belonging to a unique class of serine protease, with a Ser-His-His catalytic triad. A new, single domain protein fold has been determined by X-ray crystallography for the proteases of at least three different herpesviruses. Also unique for serine proteases, dimerization has been shown to be required for activity of the cytomegalovirus and HSV proteases. The dimerization requirement seriously impacts methods needed for productive, functional analysis and inhibitor discovery. The conserved functional and catalytic properties of the herpesvirus proteases lead to common considerations for this group of proteases in the early phases of inhibitor discovery. In general, classical serine protease inhibitors that react with active site residues do not readily inactivate the herpesvirus proteases. There has been progress however, with activated carbonyls that exploit the selective nucleophilicity of the active site serine. In addition, screening of chemical libraries has yielded novel structures as starting points for drug development. Recent crystal structures of the herpesvirus proteases now allow more direct interpretation of ligand structure-activity relationships. This review first describes basic functional aspects of herpesvirus protease biology and enzymology. Then we discuss inhibitors identified to date and the prospects for their future development.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk