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Virology. 2005 Feb 5;332(1):8-15.

Inhibition of native hepatitis C virus replicase by nucleotide and non-nucleoside inhibitors.

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Roche Palo Alto LLC, 3431 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.


A number of nucleotide and non-nucleoside inhibitors of HCV polymerase are currently under investigation as potential antiviral agents to treat HCV-infected patients. HCV polymerase is part of a replicase complex including the polymerase subunit NS5B together with other viral and host proteins and viral RNA. The RNA synthesis activity of the native replicase complex was inhibited by 3'-deoxy-CTP, a chain-terminating nucleotide analog, but not inhibited by non-nucleoside NS5B polymerase inhibitors of three different structural classes. The HCV replicase was also resistant to heparin, a broad-spectrum, RNA-competitive polymerase inhibitor. Prebinding of the recombinant NS5B protein with a RNA template rendered the polymerase largely resistant to the inhibition by heparin and the non-nucleoside inhibitors, but did not affect the inhibitory potency of 3'-deoxy-CTP. Therefore, the HCV replicase showed a similar pattern of inhibitor sensitivity as compared to RNA-bound NS5B. These results suggest that the native HCV replicase complex represents a stable and productive polymerase-RNA complex. The allosteric non-nucleoside NS5B polymerase inhibitors are inactive against established HCV replicase but may function antagonistically with the formation of a productive enzyme-template complex.

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