Using a high throughput screening methodology we surveyed a collection of largely uncharacterized validated or suspected kinase inhibitors for anti-human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) activity. From this screen we identified three structurally related 5-aminopyrazine compounds (XMD7-1, -2 and -27) that inhibited HCMV replication in virus yield reduction assays at low micromolar concentrations. Kinase selectivity assays indicated that each compound was a kinase inhibitor capable of inhibiting a range of cellular protein kinases. Western blotting and RNA sequencing demonstrated that treatment of infected cells with XMD7 compounds resulted in a defect in the production of the major HCMV transcriptional transactivator IE2 proteins (IE2-86, IE2-60 and IE2-40) and an overall reduction in transcription from the viral genome. However, production of certain viral proteins was not compromised by treatment with XMD7 compounds.
Thus, these novel anti-HCMV compounds likely inhibited transcription from the viral genome and suppressed production of a subset of viral proteins by inhibiting IE2 protein production.