Potent protease inhibitors of highly pathogenic lagoviruses: Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus and European brown hare syndrome virus

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Perera, Krishani Dinali
Johnson, David
Lovell, Scott
Groutas, William C.
Chang, Kyeong-Ok
Kim, Yunjeong
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European brown hare syndrome , Protease inhibitor , Calicivirus , Lagovirus , Rabbit hemorrhagic disease
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Perera Krishani, D., Johnson, D., Lovell, S., Groutas William, C., Chang, K.-O., & Kim, Y. (2022). Potent Protease Inhibitors of Highly Pathogenic Lagoviruses: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus and European Brown Hare Syndrome Virus. Microbiology Spectrum, 10(4), e00142-00122. https://doi.org/10.1128/spectrum.00142-22

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) and European brown hare syndrome (EBHS) are highly contagious diseases caused by lagoviruses in the Caliciviridae family. These infectious diseases are associated with high mortality and a serious threat to domesticated and wild rabbits and hares, including endangered species such as riparian brush rabbits (Sylvilagus bachmani riparius). In the United States (U.S.), only isolated cases of RHD had been reported until Spring 2020. However, RHD caused by GI.2/rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV)2/b was unexpectedly reported in April 2020 in New Mexico and has subsequently spread to several U.S. states, infecting wild rabbits and hares and making it highly likely that RHD will become endemic in the U.S. Vaccines are available for RHD; however, there is no specific treatment for this disease. Lagoviruses encode a 3C-like protease (3CLpro), which is essential for virus replication and a promising target for antiviral drug development. We have previously generated focused small-molecule libraries of 3CLpro inhibitors and demonstrated the in vitro potency and in vivo efficacy of some protease inhibitors against viruses encoding 3CLpro, including caliciviruses and coronaviruses. Here, we report the development of the enzyme and cell-based assays for the 3CLpro of GI.1c/RHDV, recombinant GI.3P-GI.2 (RHDV2/b), and GII.1/European brown hare syndrome virus (EBHSV) as well as the identification of potent lagovirus 3CLpro inhibitors, including GC376, a protease inhibitor being developed for feline infectious peritonitis. In addition, structure-activity relationship study and homology modeling of the 3CLpro and inhibitors revealed that lagovirus 3CLpro share similar structural requirements for inhibition with other calicivirus 3CLpro.

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American Society for Microbiology
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Microbiology Spectrum
Volume 10, No. 4
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