Antiviral Res

. 2021 Jan 8;105013.
doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2021.105013. Online ahead of print.
Identification of a novel inhibitor targeting influenza A virus group 2 hemagglutinins

Ruikun Du 1 , Han Cheng 2 , Qinghua Cui 2 , Norton P Peet 3 , Irina N Gaisina 4 , Lijun Rong 5



Influenza A virus (IAV) causes seasonal epidemics and occasional but devastating pandemics, which are major public health concerns. The putative antiviral therapeutics are useful for the treatment of influenza, however, the emerging resistant strains necessitate a constant search for new drug candidates. Here we report the discovery of a novel antiviral agent, compound CBS1194, which was identified by a parallel high-throughput screening (HTS) campaign using two retroviral pseudotypes bearing H7 or H5 hemagglutinins (HAs). Subsequent analyses demonstrated that CBS1194 is specific to IAVs of group 2, while it has no effect against those of group 1. In a time-of-addition assay, CBS1194 showed a significant inhibitory effect during the early phase of viral infection. In addition, HA-mediated hemolysis can be inhibited by CBS1194 treatment, indicating that this compound may target the HA stalk region, which is responsible for membrane fusion. Escape mutant analyses and in silico docking further revealed that CBS1194 fits into a pocket near the fusion peptide, causing steric hindrance that blocks the low-pH induced rearrangement of HA. In summary, our study identifies a novel fusion inhibitor of group 2 IAVs, which has the potential as lead compound for further development.

Keywords: fusion inhibitor; group 2 specific; hemagglutinin; influenza A virus.