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Virology. 2007 Sep 30;366(2):340-8. Epub 2007 Jun 1.

Inhibitors of the sodium potassium ATPase that impair herpes simplex virus replication identified via a chemical screening approach.

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Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, 250 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Small molecules can provide valuable tools to investigate virus biology. We developed a chemical screening approach to identify small molecule inhibitors of poorly understood, pre-early gene expression steps in herpes simplex virus infection, using green fluorescent protein fused to an early protein. Our assay identified ouabain, a cardiac glycoside. Ouabain reversibly decreased viral yield by 100-fold without affecting cellular metabolic activity in an overnight assay. The antiviral potencies of other cardiac glycosides correlated with their potencies against the known target of these compounds, the cellular sodium potassium ATPase. Ouabain had a reduced effect if added 8 h post-infection. It did not inhibit viral attachment or entry, but did reduce the expression of viral immediate-early and early genes by at least 5-fold. Collectively, these results implicate a cellular target that was hitherto not considered important for a stage of HSV replication prior to viral gene expression.

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