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PLoS One. 2010 Apr 12;5(4):e10126. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010126.

Discovery of selective inhibitors against EBNA1 via high throughput in silico virtual screening.

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  • 1Drug Discovery and Design Center, State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) latent infection is associated with several human malignancies and is a causal agent of lymphoproliferative diseases during immunosuppression. While inhibitors of herpesvirus DNA polymerases, like gancyclovir, reduce EBV lytic cycle infection, these treatments have limited efficacy for treating latent infection. EBNA1 is an EBV-encoded DNA-binding protein required for viral genome maintenance during latent infection.

METHODOLOGY:

Here, we report the identification of a new class of small molecules that inhibit EBNA1 DNA binding activity. These compounds were identified by virtual screening of 90,000 low molecular mass compounds using computational docking programs with the solved crystal structure of EBNA1. Four structurally related compounds were found to inhibit EBNA1-DNA binding in biochemical assays with purified EBNA1 protein. Compounds had a range of 20-100 microM inhibition of EBNA1 in fluorescence polarization assays and were further validated for inhibition using electrophoresis mobility shift assays. These compounds exhibited no significant inhibition of an unrelated DNA binding protein. Three of these compounds inhibited EBNA1 transcription activation function in cell-based assays and reduced EBV genome copy number when incubated with a Burkitt lymphoma cell line.

CONCLUSIONS:

These experiments provide a proof-of-principle that virtual screening can be used to identify specific inhibitors of EBNA1 that may have potential for treatment of EBV latent infection.

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