An M2-V27A channel blocker demonstrates potentin vitroandin vivoantiviral activities against amantadine-sensitive and -resistant influenza A viruses

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Abstract

Adamantanes such as amantadine (1) and rimantadine (2) are FDA-approved anti-influenza drugs that act by inhibiting the wild-type M2 proton channel from influenza A viruses, thereby inhibiting the uncoating of the virus. Although adamantanes have been successfully used for more than four decades, their efficacy was curtailed by emerging drug resistance. Among the limited number of M2 mutants that confer amantadine resistance, the M2-V27A mutant was found to be the predominant mutant under drug selection pressure, thereby representing a high profile antiviral drug target. Guided by molecular dynamics simulations, we previously designed first-in-class M2-V27A inhibitors. One of the potent lead compounds, spiroadamantane amine (3), inhibits both the M2-WT and M2-V27A mutant with IC50 values of 18.7 and 0.3 μM, respectively, in in vitro electrophysiological assays. Encouraged by these findings, in this study we further examine the in vitro and in vivo antiviral activity of compound 3 in inhibiting both amantadine-sensitive and -resistant influenza A viruses. Compound 3 not only had single to sub-micromolar EC50 values against M2-WT- and M2-V27A-containing influenza A viruses in antiviral assays, but also rescued mice from lethal viral infection by either M2-WT- or M2-V27A-containing influenza A viruses. In addition, we report the design of two analogs of compound 3, and one was found to have improved in vitro antiviral activity over compound 3. Collectively, this study represents the first report demonstrating the in vivo antiviral efficacy of inhibitors targeting M2 mutants. The results suggest that inhibitors targeting drug-resistant M2 mutants are promising antiviral drug candidates worthy of further development.

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