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J Virol. 2011 Jan;85(2):795-803. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02019-10. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

Antiviral activity of a small-molecule inhibitor of arenavirus glycoprotein processing by the cellular site 1 protease.

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Department of Immunology and Microbial Science IMM-6, The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Arenaviruses merit interest as clinically important human pathogens and include several causative agents, chiefly Lassa virus (LASV), of hemorrhagic fever disease in humans. There are no licensed LASV vaccines, and current antiarenavirus therapy is limited to the use of ribavirin, which is only partially effective and is associated with significant side effects. The arenavirus glycoprotein (GP) precursor GPC is processed by the cellular site 1 protease (S1P) to generate the peripheral virion attachment protein GP1 and the fusion-active transmembrane protein GP2, which is critical for production of infectious progeny and virus propagation. Therefore, S1P-mediated processing of arenavirus GPC is a promising target for therapeutic intervention. To this end, we have evaluated the antiarenaviral activity of PF-429242, a recently described small-molecule inhibitor of S1P. PF-429242 efficiently prevented the processing of GPC from the prototypic arenavirus lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) and LASV, which correlated with the compound's potent antiviral activity against LCMV and LASV in cultured cells. In contrast, a recombinant LCMV expressing a GPC whose processing into GP1 and GP2 was mediated by furin, instead of S1P, was highly resistant to PF-429242 treatment. PF-429242 did not affect virus RNA replication or budding but had a modest effect on virus cell entry, indicating that the antiarenaviral activity of PF-429242 was mostly related to its ability to inhibit S1P-mediated processing of arenavirus GPC. Our findings support the feasibility of using small-molecule inhibitors of S1P-mediated processing of arenavirus GPC as a novel antiviral strategy.

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