The Viral Polymerase Inhibitor 7-Deaza-2'-C-Methyladenosine Is a Potent Inhibitor of In Vitro Zika Virus Replication and Delays Disease Progression in a Robust Mouse Infection Model

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016 May 10;10(5):e0004695. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004695. eCollection 2016 May.


Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging flavivirus typically causing a dengue-like febrile illness, but neurological complications, such as microcephaly in newborns, have potentially been linked to this viral infection. We established a panel of in vitro assays to allow the identification of ZIKV inhibitors and demonstrate that the viral polymerase inhibitor 7-deaza-2'-C-methyladenosine (7DMA) efficiently inhibits replication. Infection of AG129 (IFN-α/β and IFN-γ receptor knock-out) mice with ZIKV resulted in acute neutrophilic encephalitis with viral antigens accumulating in neurons of the brain and spinal cord. Additionally, high levels of viral RNA were detected in the spleen, liver and kidney, and levels of IFN-γ and IL-18 were systematically increased in serum of ZIKV-infected mice. Interestingly, the virus was also detected in testicles of infected mice. In line with its in vitro anti-ZIKV activity, 7DMA reduced viremia and delayed virus-induced morbidity and mortality in infected mice, which also validates this small animal model to assess the in vivo efficacy of novel ZIKV inhibitors. Since AG129 mice can generate an antibody response, and have been used in dengue vaccine studies, the model can also be used to assess the efficacy of ZIKV vaccines. .

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Tubercidin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tubercidin / pharmacology
  • Vero Cells
  • Virus Replication / drug effects*
  • Zika Virus / drug effects*
  • Zika Virus / physiology
  • Zika Virus Infection / drug therapy*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Tubercidin
  • 7-deaza-2'-C-methyladenosine

Grant support

JZ’s work was supported by: EU FP7 [FP7/2007-2013] project EUVIRNA under grant agreement n° [264286], a grant from the Belgian Interuniversity Attraction Poles (IAP) phase VII – P7/45 (BELVIR) and the Fondation Dormeur, Vaduz. Part of this research work was performed using the 'Caps-It' research infrastructure (project ZW13-02) that was financially supported by the Hercules Foundation and Rega Foundation, KU Leuven. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.