J Virol 2020 01 6;94(2). Epub 2020 Jan 6.
Department of Chemical Biology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany
To counteract the serious health threat posed by known and novel viral pathogens, drugs that target a variety of viruses through a common mechanism have attracted recent attention due to their potential in treating (re)emerging infections, for which direct-acting antivirals are not available. We found that labyrinthopeptins A1 and A2, the prototype congeners of carbacyclic lanthipeptides, inhibit the proliferation of diverse enveloped viruses, including dengue virus, Zika virus, West Nile virus, hepatitis C virus, chikungunya virus, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus, in the low micromolar to nanomolar range. Mechanistic studies on viral particles revealed that labyrinthopeptins induce a virolytic effect through binding to the viral membrane lipid phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). These effects are enhanced by a combined equimolar application of both labyrinthopeptins, and a clear synergism was observed across a concentration range corresponding to 10% to 90% inhibitory concentrations of the compounds. Time-resolved experiments with large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) reveal that membrane lipid raft compositions (phosphatidylcholine [PC]/PE/cholesterol/sphingomyelin at 17:10:33:40) are particularly sensitive to labyrinthopeptins in comparison to PC/PE (90:10) LUVs, even though the overall PE amount remains constant. Labyrinthopeptins exhibited low cytotoxicity and had favorable pharmacokinetic properties in mice (half-life  = 10.0 h), which designates them promising antiviral compounds acting by an unusual viral lipid targeting mechanism. For many viral infections, current treatment options are insufficient. Because the development of each antiviral drug is time-consuming and expensive, the prospect of finding broad-spectrum antivirals that can fight multiple, diverse viruses-well-known viruses as well as (re)emerging species-has gained attention, especially for the treatment of viral coinfections. While most known broad-spectrum agents address processes in the host cell, we found that targeting lipids of the free virus outside the host cell with the natural products labyrinthopeptin A1 and A2 is a viable strategy to inhibit the proliferation of a broad range of viruses from different families, including chikungunya virus, dengue virus, Zika virus, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, and cytomegalovirus. Labyrinthopeptins bind to viral phosphatidylethanolamine and induce virolysis without exerting cytotoxicity on host cells. This represents a novel and unusual mechanism to tackle medically relevant viral infections.