Potent antiviral activity of north-methanocarbathymidine against Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus

Weimin Zhu, Angela Burnette, Dorjbal Dorjsuren, Paula E. Roberts, Mahmoud Huleihel, Robert H. Shoemaker, Victor E. Marquez, Riad Agbaria, Shizuko Sei

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24 Scopus citations


Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) infection is a prerequisite for the development of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). Blocking lytic KSHV replication may hinder KS tumorigenesis. Here, we report potent in vitro anti-KSHV activity of 2′-evo-methanocarba thymidine [North-methanocarbathymidine (N-MCT)], a thymidine analog with a pseudosugar ring locked in the northern conformation, which has previously been shown to block the replication of herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2. N-MCT inhibited KSHV virion production in lytically induced KSHV-infected BCBL-1 cells with a substantially lower 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) than those of cidofovir (CDV) and ganciclovir (GCV) (IC50, mean ± standard deviation: 0.08 ± 0.03, 0.42 ± 0.07, and 0.96 ± 0.49 μM for N-MCT, CDV, and GCV, respectively). The reduction in KSHV virion production was accompanied by a corresponding decrease in KSHV DNA levels in the N-MCT-treated BCBL-1 cells, indicating that the compound blocked lytic KSHV DNA replication. A time- and dose-dependent accumulation of N-MCT-triphosphate (TP) was demonstrated in lytically induced BCBL-1 cells, while uninfected cells showed virtually no accumulation. The levels of N-MCT-TP were significantly decreased in the presence of 5′-ethynylthymidine, a potent inhibitor of herpesvirus thymidine kinase, resulting in the abrogation of anti-KSHV activity of N-MCT. N-MCT-TP more effectively blocked in vitro DNA synthesis by KSHV DNA polymerase with an IC50 of 6.24 ± 0.08 μM (mean ± standard deviation) compared to CDV-diphosphate (14.70 ± 2.47 μM) or GCV-TP (24.59 ± 5.60 μM). Taken together, N-MCT is a highly potent and target-specific anti-KSHV agent which inhibits lytic KSHV DNA synthesis through its triphosphate metabolite produced in KSHV-infected cells expressing a virally encoded thymidine kinase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4965-4973
Number of pages9
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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