UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Virtual Screening Identifies Chebulagic Acid as an Inhibitor of the M2(S31N) Viral Ion Channel and Influenza A Virus Duncan, Maggie C.; Onguéné, Pascal Amoa; Kihara, Ibuki; Nebangwa, Derrick N.; Naidu, Maya E.; Williams, David E.; Balgi, Aruna D.; Andrae-Marobela, Kerstin; Roberge, Michel; Andersen, Raymond J.; et al.


The increasing prevalence of drug-resistant influenza viruses emphasizes the need for new antiviral countermeasures. The M2 protein of influenza A is a proton-gated, proton-selective ion channel, which is essential for influenza replication and an established antiviral target. However, all currently circulating influenza A virus strains are now resistant to licensed M2-targeting adamantane drugs, primarily due to the widespread prevalence of an M2 variant encoding a serine to asparagine 31 mutation (S31N). To identify new chemical leads that may target M2(S31N), we performed a virtual screen of molecules from two natural product libraries and identified chebulagic acid as a candidate M2(S31N) inhibitor and influenza antiviral. Chebulagic acid selectively restores growth of M2(S31N)-expressing yeast. Molecular modeling also suggests that chebulagic acid hydrolysis fragments preferentially interact with the highly-conserved histidine residue within the pore of M2(S31N) but not adamantane-sensitive M2(S31). In contrast, chebulagic acid inhibits in vitro influenza A replication regardless of M2 sequence, suggesting that it also acts on other influenza targets. Taken together, results implicate chebulagic acid and/or its hydrolysis fragments as new chemical leads for M2(S31N) and influenza-directed antiviral development.

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