Targeted inhibition of hantavirus replication and intracranial pathogenesis by a chimeric protein-delivered siRNA

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Hantavirus (HV) infection, which underlies hantavirus hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, remains to be a severe clinical challenge. Here, we synthesized small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that target the encoding sequences of HV strain 76-118, and validated their inhibitory role in virus replication in HV-infected monkey kidney Vero E6 cells. A chimeric protein, 3G1-Cκ-tP, consisting of a single-chain antibody fragment (3G1) against the HV surface envelop glycoprotein, the constant region of human immunoglobulin κ chain (Cκ), and truncated protamine (amino acids 8–29, tP), was further generated. The fusion protein showed high affinity to HV antigen on the infected cell membrane, and internalized through clathrin-mediated endocytosis; it bound to siRNAs via the basic nucleic acid-rich protamine fragment, leading to their specific delivery into HV-infected cells and efficient inhibition of virus replication. An encephalitis mouse model was established via intracranial HV administration. Intraperitoneal injection of siRNAs complexed with 3G1-Cκ-tP achieved specific distribution of siRNAs in HV-infected brain cells, significantly reduced HV antigen levels, and effective protection from HV infection-derived animal death. These results provide a compelling rationale for novel therapeutic protocols designed for HV infection and related disorders.

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