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Enhancing the Antiviral Efficacy of RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase Inhibition by Combination with Modulators of Pyrimidine Metabolism

By Qi Liu, Amita Gupta, Ayse Okesli-Armlovich, Wenjie Qiao, Curt R. Fischer, Mark Smith, Jan E. Carette, Michael C. Bassik, Chaitan Khosla

Posted 25 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.24.992230 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2020.05.002)

Genome-wide analysis of the mode of action of GSK983, a potent antiviral agent, led to the identification of dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) as its target, along with the discovery that knockdown of genes in pyrimidine salvage pathways sensitized cells to GSK983. Because GSK983 is an ineffective antiviral in the presence of physiological uridine concentrations, we explored combining GSK983 with pyrimidine salvage inhibitors. We synthesized and evaluated analogs of cyclopentenyl uracil (CPU), an inhibitor of uridine salvage. We found that CPU was efficiently converted into its triphosphates in cells. When combined with GSK983, it led to large drops in cellular UTP and CTP pools. Consequently, CPU-GSK983 suppressed dengue virus replication in the presence of physiological concentrations of uridine. In addition, the CPU-GSK983 combination markedly enhanced the effect of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) inhibition on viral genome infection. Our findings highlight a new host-targeting strategy for potentiating the antiviral activities of RdRp inhibitors.

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