Discovery of a non-nucleoside RNA polymerase inhibitor for blocking Zika virus replication through in silico screening

Aryamav Pattnaik, Nicholas Palermo, Bikash R. Sahoo, Zhe Yuan, Duoyi Hu, Arun S. Annamalai, Hiep L Vu, Ignacio Correas, Pavan Kumar Prathipati, Christopher J. Destache, Qingsheng Li, Fernando A. Osorio, Asit K Pattnaik, Shi-Hua Xiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Zika virus (ZIKV), an emerging arbovirus, has become a major human health concern globally due to its association with congenital abnormalities and neurological diseases. Licensed vaccines or antivirals against ZIKV are currently unavailable. Here, by employing a structure-based approach targeting the ZIKV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), we conducted in silico screening of a library of 100,000 small molecules and tested the top ten lead compounds for their ability to inhibit the virus replication in cell-based in vitro assays. One compound, 3-chloro-N-[({4-[4-(2-thienylcarbonyl)-1-piperazinyl]phenyl}amino)carbonothioyl]-1-benzothiophene-2-carboxamide (TPB), potently inhibited ZIKV replication at sub-micromolar concentrations. Molecular docking analysis suggests that TPB binds to the catalytic active site of the RdRp and therefore likely blocks the viral RNA synthesis by an allosteric effect. The IC50 and the CC50 of TPB in Vero cells were 94 nM and 19.4 μM, respectively, yielding a high selective index of 206. In in vivo studies using immunocompetent mice, TPB reduced ZIKV viremia significantly, indicating TPB as a potential drug candidate for ZIKV infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-86
Number of pages9
JournalAntiviral Research
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • In silico screening
  • Non-nucleoside inhibitor (NNI)
  • RNA-dependent-RNA polymerase (RdRp)
  • TPB
  • Zika virus (ZIKV)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Virology


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