Antiviral activity of KR-23502 targeting nuclear export of influenza B virus ribonucleoproteins

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The spiro compound 5,6-dimethyl-3H,3′H-spiro(benzofuran-2,1'-isobenzofuran)-3,3'-dione (KR-23502) has antiviral activity against influenza A and more potently B viruses. The aim of this study is to elucidate its mechanism of action. Subcellular localization and time-course expression of influenza B viral proteins, nucleoprotein (NP) and matrix protein 1 (M1), showed that KR-23502 reduced their amounts within 5 h post-infection. Early steps of virus life cycle, including virus entry, nuclear localization of NP and viral RNA-dependent RNA replication, were not affected by KR-23502. Instead it interrupted a later event corresponding to nuclear export of NP and M1 proteins. Delivery of viral ribonucleoprotein (vRNP)-M1 complex has been known to be mediated by the viral nuclear export protein (NEP) through interaction with cellular chromosomal maintenance 1 (CRM1) protein. In this study, we experimentally demonstrated that the compound targets the nuclear export of vRNP. Moreover, a single mutation (aspartate to glycine) at amino acid position 54 in M1 [M1(D54G)] was detected after 18 passages in the presence of KR-23502 with a 2-fold increase in 50% effective concentration indicating that this compound has a relatively high genetic barrier to resistance. Interestingly, it was observed that proteasome-mediated degradation of M1(D54G) was attenuated by KR-23502. In conclusion, we suggest that KR-23502 shows its anti-influenza activity by downregulating NEP/CRM1-mediated nuclear export of influenza vRNP and M1. KR-23502 provides a core chemical skeleton for further structure-based design of novel antivirals against influenza viruses.

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