Amino acids have been implicated with virus infection and replication. Here, we demonstrate the effects of two basic amino acids, arginine and lysine, and their ester derivatives on infection of two enveloped viruses, SARS-CoV-2, and influenza A virus. We found that lysine and its ester derivative can efficiently block infection of both viruses in vitro. Furthermore, the arginine ester derivative caused a significant boost in virus infection. Studies on their mechanism of action revealed that the compounds potentially disturb virus uncoating rather than virus attachment and endosomal acidification. Our findings suggest that lysine supplementation and the reduction of arginine-rich food intake can be considered as prophylactic and therapeutic regimens against these viruses while also providing a paradigm for the development of broad-spectrum antivirals.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; antiviral therapy; arginine; disease prevention; influenza A virus; lysine.