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Biochemistry. 2005 Jul 19;44(28):9637-44.

Specific targeting of hepatitis C virus NS3 RNA helicase. Discovery of the potent and selective competitive nucleotide-mimicking inhibitor QU663.

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Istituto di Genetica Molecolare, CNR-Pavia, via Abbiategrasso 207, 27100 Pavia, Italy.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an emerging global epidemic, and no effective cure is yet available. Interferon-alpha (INFalpha) and pegylated INFs, in combination or otherwise with ribavirin, have proven to be effective in no more than 50% of chronically infected patients. New and better therapeutic strategies are therefore needed. HCV nonstructural protein 3 (NS3) RNA helicase (h) is a promising target for developing new therapeutics. QU663 was discovered as a potent new selective inhibitor of the helicase reaction of HCV NS3 (K(i) = 0.75 microM), competing with the nucleic acid substrate without affecting ATPase function, even at high concentrations. QU663 is one of a new generation of small-molecule nucleotide-mimicking inhibitors which are potential anti-HCV agents. A thorough molecular modeling study was carried out to explain the molecular basis of NS3h inhibition by QU663. The resulting three-dimensional interaction model is discussed.

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