Mounce BC, Cesaro T, Moratorio G, Hooikaas PJ, Yakovleva A, Werneke SW, Smith EC, Poirier EZ, Simon-Loriere E, Prot M, Tamietti C, Vitry S, Volle R, Khou C, Frenkiel MP, Sakuntabhai A, Delpeyroux F, Pardigon N, Flamand M, Barba-Spaeth G, Lafon M, Denison MR, Albert ML, Vignuzzi M. Inhibition of polyamine biosynthesis is a broad-spectrum strategy against RNA viruses. Journal of virology. 2016 Aug 17. PMID: 27535047 [PubMed]
RNA viruses present an extraordinary threat to human health, given their sudden and unpredictable appearance, the potential for rapid spread among the human population, and their ability to evolve resistance to antiviral therapies. Recent emergence of chikungunya virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, Zika virus and Ebola virus highlight the struggles to contain outbreaks. A significant hurdle is the availability of antivirals to treat the infected or protect at-risk populations. While several compounds show promise in vitro and in vivo, these outbreaks underscore the need to accelerate drug discovery. The replication of several viruses has been described to rely on host polyamines, small and abundant positively-charged molecules found in the cell. Here, we describe the antiviral effects of two molecules that alter polyamine levels: difluoromethylornithine (DFMO, eflornithine), a suicide inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC1), and diethylnorspermine (DENSpm), an activator of spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase (SAT1). We show that reducing polyamine levels negatively impacts diverse RNA viruses, including several viruses involved in recent outbreaks, in vitro and in vivo. These findings highlight the importance of the polyamine biosynthetic pathway to viral replication as well as its potential as a target in the development of further antivirals or currently available molecules, such as DFMO.