Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 24098125
PLoS Pathog. 2013;9(10):e1003678
Searching for stimulators of the innate antiviral response is an appealing approach to develop novel therapeutics against viral infections. Here, we established a cell-based reporter assay to identify compounds stimulating expression of interferon-inducible antiviral genes. DD264 was selected out of 41,353 compounds for both its immuno-stimulatory and antiviral properties. While searching for its mode of action, we identified DD264 as an inhibitor of pyrimidine biosynthesis pathway. This metabolic pathway was recently identified as a prime target of broad-spectrum antiviral molecules, but our data unraveled a yet unsuspected link with innate immunity. Indeed, we showed that DD264 or brequinar, a well-known inhibitor of pyrimidine biosynthesis pathway, both enhanced the expression of antiviral genes in human cells. Furthermore, antiviral activity of DD264 or brequinar was found strictly dependent on cellular gene transcription, nuclear export machinery, and required IRF1 transcription factor. In conclusion, the antiviral property of pyrimidine biosynthesis inhibitors is not a direct consequence of pyrimidine deprivation on the virus machinery, but rather involves the induction of cellular immune response.