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Microorganisms ; 9(3)2021 Mar 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1134191


The increase in pandemics caused by RNA viruses of zoonotic origin highlights the urgent need for broad-spectrum antivirals against novel and re-emerging RNA viruses. Broad-spectrum antivirals could be deployed as first-line interventions during an outbreak while virus-specific drugs and vaccines are developed and rolled out. Viruses depend on the host's protein synthesis machinery for replication. Several natural compounds that target the cellular DEAD-box RNA helicase eIF4A, a key component of the eukaryotic translation initiation complex eIF4F, have emerged as potential broad-spectrum antivirals. Rocaglates, a group of flavaglines of plant origin that clamp mRNAs with highly structured 5' untranslated regions (5'UTRs) onto the surface of eIF4A through specific stacking interactions, exhibit the largest selectivity and potential therapeutic indices among all known eIF4A inhibitors. Their unique mechanism of action limits the inhibitory effect of rocaglates to the translation of eIF4A-dependent viral mRNAs and a minor fraction of host mRNAs exhibiting stable RNA secondary structures and/or polypurine sequence stretches in their 5'UTRs, resulting in minimal potential toxic side effects. Maintaining a favorable safety profile while inducing efficient inhibition of a broad spectrum of RNA viruses makes rocaglates into primary candidates for further development as pan-antiviral therapeutics.

Antiviral Res ; 186: 105012, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1064809


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of COVID-19, a severe respiratory disease with varying clinical presentations and outcomes, and responsible for a major pandemic that started in early 2020. With no vaccines or effective antiviral treatments available, the quest for novel therapeutic solutions remains an urgent priority. Rocaglates, a class of plant-derived cyclopenta[b]benzofurans, exhibit broad-spectrum antiviral activity against multiple RNA viruses including coronaviruses. Specifically, rocaglates inhibit eukaryotic initiation factor 4A (eIF4A)-dependent mRNA translation initiation, resulting in strongly reduced viral RNA translation. Here, we assessed the antiviral activity of the synthetic rocaglate CR-31-B (-) against SARS-CoV-2 using both in vitro and ex vivo cell culture models. In Vero E6 cells, CR-31-B (-) inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication with an EC50 of ~1.8 nM. In primary human airway epithelial cells, CR-31-B (-) reduced viral titers to undetectable levels at a concentration of 100 nM. Reduced virus reproduction was accompanied by substantially reduced viral protein accumulation and replication/transcription complex formation. The data reveal a potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity by CR-31-B (-), corroborating previous results obtained for other coronaviruses and supporting the idea that rocaglates may be used in first-line antiviral intervention strategies against novel and emerging RNA virus outbreaks.

Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Benzofurans/pharmacology , Hydroxamic Acids/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Virus Replication/drug effects , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Benzofurans/chemistry , Bronchi/virology , Cells, Cultured , Chlorocebus aethiops , Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4A/antagonists & inhibitors , Humans , Hydroxamic Acids/chemistry , Respiratory Mucosa/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Vero Cells , Viral Load/drug effects , Viral Replication Compartments/drug effects