Unique small molecule entry inhibitors of hemorrhagic fever arenaviruses

Andrew M. Lee, Jillian M. Rojek, Christina F. Spiropoulou, Anette T. Gundersen, Wei Jin, Alex Shaginian, Joanne York, Jack H. Nunberg, Dale L. Boger, Michael B.A. Oldstone, Stefan Kunz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Viral hemorrhagic fevers caused by the arenaviruses Lassa virus in Africa and Machupo, Guanarito, Junin, and Sabia virus in South America are among the most devastating emerging human diseases with fatality rates of 15-35% and a limited antiviral therapeutic repertoire available. Here we used high throughput screening of synthetic combinatorial small molecule libraries to identify inhibitors of arenavirus infection using pseudotyped virion particles bearing the glycoproteins (GPs) of highly pathogenic arenaviruses. Our screening efforts resulted in the discovery of a series of novel small molecule inhibitors of viral entry that are highly active against both Old World and New World hemorrhagic arenaviruses. We observed potent inhibition of infection of human and primate cells with live hemorrhagic arenaviruses (IC50 = 500-800 nM). Investigations of the mechanism of action revealed that the candidate compounds efficiently block pH-dependent fusion by the arenavirus GPs (IC 50 of 200-350 nM). Although our lead compounds were potent against phylogenetically distant arenaviruses, they did not show activity against other enveloped viruses with class I viral fusion proteins, indicating specificity for arenavirus GP-mediated membrane fusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18734-18742
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number27
StatePublished - Jul 4 2008


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