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Decoy Receptor Interactions As Novel Drug Targets Against EKC-Causing Human Adenovirus

Naresh Chandra, Lars Frängsmyr, Niklas Arnberg

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Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) is a severe ocular disease and can lead to visual impairment. Human adenovirus type-37 (HAdV-D37) is one of the major causative agents of EKC and uses sialic acid (SA)-containing glycans as cellular receptors. Currently, there are no approved antivirals available for the treatment of EKC. Recently, we have reported that sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) bind to HAdV-D37 via the fiber knob (FK) domain of the viral fiber protein and function as decoy receptors. Based on this finding, we speculated that GAG-mimetics may act as artificial decoy receptors and inhibit HAdV-D37 infection. Repurposing of approved drugs to identify new antivirals has drawn great attention in recent years. Here, we report the antiviral effect of suramin, a WHO-approved drug and a widely known GAG-mimetic, against HAdV-D37. Commercially available suramin analogs also show antiviral effects against HAdV-D37. We demonstrate that suramin exerts its antiviral activity by inhibiting the attachment of HAdV-D37 to cells. We also reveal that the antiviral effect of suramin is HAdV species-specific. Collectively, in this proof of concept study, we demonstrate for the first time that virus binding to a decoy receptor constitutes a novel and an unexplored target for antiviral drug development.