Taroncher-Oldenburg, G.; Müller, C.; Obermann, W.; Ziebuhr, J.; Hartmann, R.K.; Grünweller, A. Targeting the DEAD-Box RNA Helicase eIF4A with Rocaglates—A Pan-Antiviral Strategy for Minimizing the Impact of Future RNA Virus Pandemics. Microorganisms2021, 9, 540.
Taroncher-Oldenburg, G.; Müller, C.; Obermann, W.; Ziebuhr, J.; Hartmann, R.K.; Grünweller, A. Targeting the DEAD-Box RNA Helicase eIF4A with Rocaglates—A Pan-Antiviral Strategy for Minimizing the Impact of Future RNA Virus Pandemics. Microorganisms 2021, 9, 540.
The increase in pandemics caused by RNA viruses of zoonotic origin highlights the urgent need for broad-spectrum antivirals against novel and re-emerging RNA viruses. Broad-spectrum antivirals could be deployed as first-line interventions during an outbreak while virus-specific drugs and vaccines are developed and rolled out. Viruses depend on the host’s protein synthesis machinery for replication. Several natural compounds that target the cellular DEAD-box RNA helicase eIF4A, a key component of the eukaryotic translation initiation complex eIF4F, have emerged as potential broad-spectrum antivirals. Rocaglates, a group of flavaglines of plant origin that clamp mRNAs with highly structured 5’UTRs onto the surface of eIF4A through specific stacking interactions, exhibit the largest selectivity and potential therapeutic indices among all known eIF4A inhibitors. Their unique mechanism of action limits the inhibitory effect of rocaglates to the translation of eIF4A-dependent viral mRNAs and a minor fraction of host mRNAs exhibiting stable RNA secondary structures and/or polypurine sequence stretches in their 5´UTRs, resulting in minimal potential toxic side effects. Maintaining a favorable safety profile while inducing efficient inhibition of a broad-spectrum of RNA viruses makes rocaglates into primary candidates for further development as pan-antiviral therapeutics.
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