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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The anti-influenza virus agent 4-GU-DANA (zanamivir) inhibits cell fusion mediated by human parainfluenza virus and influenza virus HA.

4-GU-DANA (zanamivir) (as well as DANA and 4-AM-DANA) was found to inhibit the neuraminidase activity of human parainfluenza virus type 3 (HPF3). The viral neuraminidase activity is attributable to hemagglutinin-neuraminidase ( HN), an envelope protein essential for viral attachment and for fusion mediated by the other envelope protein, F. While there is no evidence that HN's neuraminidase activity is essential for receptor binding and syncytium formation, we found that 4-GU-DANA prevented hemadsorption and fusion of persistently infected cells with uninfected cells. In plaque assays, 4-GU-DANA reduced the number (but not the area) of plaques if present only during the adsorption period and reduced plaque area (but not number) if added only after the 90-min adsorption period. 4-GU-DANA also reduced the area of plaques formed by a neuraminidase-deficient variant, confirming that its interference with cell-cell fusion is unrelated to inhibition of neuraminidase activity. The order-of-magnitude lower 50% inhibitory concentrations of 4-GU-DANA (and also DANA and 4-AM-DANA) for plaque area reduction and for inhibition in the fusion assay than for reducing plaque number or blocking hemadsorption indicate the particular efficacy of these sialic acid analogs in interfering with cell-cell fusion. In cell lines expressing influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) as the only viral protein, we found that 4-GU-DANA had no effect on hemadsorption but did inhibit HA2b-red blood cell fusion, as judged by both lipid mixing and content mixing. Thus, 4-GU-DANA can interfere with both influenza virus- and HPF3-mediated fusion. The results indicate that (i) in HPF3, 4-GU-DANA and its analogs have an affinity not only for the neuraminidase active site of HN but also for sites important for receptor binding and cell fusion and (ii) sialic acid-based inhibitors of influenza virus neuraminidase can also exert a direct, negative effect on the fusogenic function of the other envelope protein, HA.[1]


  1. The anti-influenza virus agent 4-GU-DANA (zanamivir) inhibits cell fusion mediated by human parainfluenza virus and influenza virus HA. Greengard, O., Poltoratskaia, N., Leikina, E., Zimmerberg, J., Moscona, A. J. Virol. (2000) [Pubmed]
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