The non-structural protein 5 (NS5) of flaviviruses is the most conserved amongst the viral proteins. It is about 900 kDa and bears enzymatic activities that play vital roles in virus replication. Its N-terminal domain encodes dual N7 and 2'-O methyltransferase activities (MTase), and possibly guanylyltransferase (GTase) involved in RNA cap formation. The C-terminal region comprises a RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) required for viral RNA synthesis. Both MTase and RdRp activities of dengue virus NS5 are well characterized, structurally and functionally. Numerous crystal structures of the flavivirus MTase and RdRp domains have been solved. Inhibitors of both functions have been identified through screening activities using biochemical and cell-based assays, as well as via rational design approaches. This review summaries the current knowledge as well as prospective views on these aspects. This article forms part of a symposium on flavivirus drug discovery in Antiviral Research.
Keywords: Antiviral; Dengue hemorrhagic fever; Dengue virus; Methyltransferase; NS5 protein; RNA polymerase.
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