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Biochimie. 2002 Apr;84(4):329-34.

Molecular characterization and action of usnic acid: a drug that inhibits proliferation of mouse polyomavirus in vitro and whose main target is RNA transcription.

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Dipartimento di Chimica, Università La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.


Usnic acid is a normal component of lichen cells. This natural compound has shown different biological and physiological activities that might have a great relevance in pharmacology and clinics. For instance, usnic acid is known for its antibacterial and antiparasitic action. Also, the drug has a potential interest in cancer therapy because of its antimitotic and antiproliferative action. The molecular structure of usnic acid has been validated and further explored in this investigation. Many biological properties of this drug are known; however its potential antiviral action has not yet been evaluated. In this paper, we demonstrate that usnic acid is a potent inhibitor of the proliferation of mouse polyomavirus. Its action is not exerted at the level of virion entry into the host cell. Moreover, the abolition of viral DNA replication is an indirect consequence of the drastic inhibition of RNA transcription.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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