High-Throughput Screening and Identification of Potent Broad-Spectrum Inhibitors of Coronaviruses.
J Virol. 2019 Jun 15 ;93(12). Epub 2019 May 29. PMID: 30918074
Coronaviruses (CoVs) act as cross-species viruses and have the potential to spread rapidly into new host species and cause epidemic diseases. Despite the severe public health threat of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV), there are currently no drugs available for their treatment; therefore, broad-spectrum inhibitors of emerging and endemic CoVs are urgently needed. To search for effective inhibitory agents, we performed high-throughput screening (HTS) of a 2,000-compound library of approved drugs and pharmacologically active compounds using the established genetically engineered human CoV OC43 (HCoV-OC43) strain expressingluciferase (rOC43-ns2Del-Rluc) and validated the inhibitors using multiple genetically distinct CoVsWe screened 56 hits from the HTS data and validated 36 compoundsusing wild-type HCoV-OC43. Furthermore, we identified seven compounds (lycorine, emetine, monensin sodium, mycophenolate mofetil, mycophenolic acid, phenazopyridine, and pyrvinium pamoate) as broad-spectrum inhibitors according to their strong inhibition of replication by four CoVsat low-micromolar concentrations. Additionally, we found that emetine blocked MERS-CoV entry according to pseudovirus entry assays and that lycorine protected BALB/c mice against HCoV-OC43-induced lethality by decreasing viral load in the central nervous system. This represents the first demonstration ofreal-time bioluminescence imaging to monitor the effect of lycorine on the spread and distribution of HCoV-OC43 in a mouse model. These results offer critical information supporting the development of an effective therapeutic strategy against CoV infection.Currently, there is no approved therapy to treat coronavirus infection; therefore, broad-spectrum inhibitors of emerging and endemic CoVs are needed. Based on our high-throughput screening assay using a compound library, we identified seven compounds with broad-spectrum efficacy against the replication of four CoVsAdditionally, one compound (lycorine) was found to protect BALB/c mice against HCoV-OC43-induced lethality by decreasing viral load in the central nervous system. This inhibitor might offer promising therapeutic possibilities for combatting novel CoV infections in the future.