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Discovery of a hepatitis C target and its pharmacological inhibitors by microfluidic affinity analysis

Nature Biotechnology volume 26, pages 10191027 (2008) | Download Citation

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Abstract

More effective therapies are urgently needed against hepatitis C virus (HCV), a major cause of viral hepatitis. We used in vitro protein expression and microfluidic affinity analysis to study RNA binding by the HCV transmembrane protein NS4B, which plays an essential role in HCV RNA replication. We show that HCV NS4B binds RNA and that this binding is specific for the 3′ terminus of the negative strand of the viral genome with a dissociation constant (Kd) of 3.4 nM. A high-throughput microfluidic screen of a compound library identified 18 compounds that substantially inhibited binding of RNA by NS4B. One of these compounds, clemizole hydrochloride, was found to inhibit HCV RNA replication in cell culture that was mediated by its suppression of NS4B's RNA binding, with little toxicity for the host cell. These results yield new insight into the HCV life cycle and provide a candidate compound for pharmaceutical development.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research (to J.S.G.) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) RO1 DK066793, an NIH Director's Pioneer Award (to S.R.Q.) and NIH 1RO1 HG002644-01A1. D.G. was supported in part by the Fulbright Foundation. S.E. is a recipient of an American Liver Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Award. We also wish to thank the Stanford University SPARK Program, High-Throughput Bioscience Center and the Microfluidic Foundry. The plasmid FL-J6/JFH-5′C19Rluc2AUbi that consists of the full-length HCV genome and expresses Renilla luciferase was a gift from Charles M. Rice, Rockefeller University.

Author information

Author notes

    • Sebastian J Maerkl

    Present address: School of Engineering, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Building BM 2111, Station 17, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.

    • Shirit Einav
    •  & Doron Gerber

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

    • Shirit Einav
  2. Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, CCSR 3115A, 269 Campus Drive, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

    • Shirit Einav
    • , Paul D Bryson
    • , Ella H Sklan
    • , Menashe Elazar
    •  & Jeffrey S Glenn
  3. Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

    • Doron Gerber
    • , Sebastian J Maerkl
    •  & Stephen R Quake

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Competing interests

Stanford University has filed a patent application on the results from this work.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jeffrey S Glenn or Stephen R Quake.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt.1490