Hemorrhagic fever viruses, among them orthohantaviruses, arenaviruses and filoviruses, are responsible for some of the most severe human diseases and represent a serious challenge for public health. The current limited therapeutic options and available vaccines make the development of novel efficacious antiviral agents an urgent need. Inhibiting viral attachment and entry is a promising strategy for the development of new treatments and to prevent all subsequent steps in virus infection. Here, we developed a fluorescence-based screening assay for the identification of new antivirals against hemorrhagic fever virus entry. We screened a phytochemical library containing 320 natural compounds using a validated VSV pseudotype platform bearing the glycoprotein of the virus of interest and encoding enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP). EGFP expression allows the quantitative detection of infection and the identification of compounds affecting viral entry. We identified several hits against four pseudoviruses for the orthohantaviruses Hantaan (HTNV) and Andes (ANDV), the filovirus Ebola (EBOV) and the arenavirus Lassa (LASV). Two selected inhibitors, emetine dihydrochloride and tetrandrine, were validated with infectious pathogenic HTNV in a BSL-3 laboratory. This study provides potential therapeutics against emerging virus infection, and highlights the importance of drug repurposing.
Keywords: GFP; antiviral screening; arenavirus; ebolavirus; entry inhibitors; orthohantaviruses; viral hemorrhagic fever.