Selective Inhibitor of Nuclear Export (SINE) Compounds Alter New World Alphavirus Capsid Localization and Reduce Viral Replication in Mammalian Cells

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016 Nov 30;10(11):e0005122. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005122. eCollection 2016 Nov.


The capsid structural protein of the New World alphavirus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), interacts with the host nuclear transport proteins importin α/β1 and CRM1. Novel selective inhibitor of nuclear export (SINE) compounds, KPT-185, KPT-335 (verdinexor), and KPT-350, target the host's primary nuclear export protein, CRM1, in a manner similar to the archetypical inhibitor Leptomycin B. One major limitation of Leptomycin B is its irreversible binding to CRM1; which SINE compounds alleviate because they are slowly reversible. Chemically inhibiting CRM1 with these compounds enhanced capsid localization to the nucleus compared to the inactive compound KPT-301, as indicated by immunofluorescent confocal microscopy. Differences in extracellular versus intracellular viral RNA, as well as decreased capsid in cell free supernatants, indicated the inhibitors affected viral assembly, which led to a decrease in viral titers. The decrease in viral replication was confirmed using a luciferase-tagged virus and through plaque assays. SINE compounds had no effect on VEEV TC83_Cm, which encodes a mutated form of capsid that is unable to enter the nucleus. Serially passaging VEEV in the presence of KPT-185 resulted in mutations within the nuclear localization and nuclear export signals of capsid. Finally, SINE compound treatment also reduced the viral titers of the related eastern and western equine encephalitis viruses, suggesting that CRM1 maintains a common interaction with capsid proteins across the New World alphavirus genus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus / drug effects
  • Alphavirus / drug effects*
  • Alphavirus / genetics
  • Alphavirus / physiology
  • Alphavirus Infections / virology*
  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Capsid Proteins / genetics
  • Capsid Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / virology
  • Humans
  • Karyopherins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Karyopherins / genetics
  • Karyopherins / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism
  • Virus Assembly / drug effects
  • Virus Replication / drug effects*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Capsid Proteins
  • Karyopherins
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • exportin 1 protein

Grant support

This work was funded through a Defense Threat Reduction Agency grant, HDTRA1-15-1-0014, to KKH. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.