UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Redirecting Imipramine against Bluetongue Virus Infection: Insights from a Genome-wide Haploid Screening Study John, Lijo; Vernersson, Caroline; Kwon, Hyesoo; Elling, Ulrich; Penninger, Josef; Mirazimi, Ali


Bluetongue virus (BTV), an arbovirus of ruminants, is a causative agent of numerous epidemics around the world. Due to the emergence of novel reassortant BTV strains and new outbreaks, there is an unmet need for efficacious antivirals. In this study, we used an improved haploid screening platform to identify the relevant host factors for BTV infection. Our screening tool identified and validated the host factor Niemann–Pick C1 (NPC1), a lysosomal membrane protein that is involved in lysosomal cholesterol transport, as a critical factor in BTV infection. This finding prompted us to investigate the possibility of testing imipramine, an antidepressant drug known to inhibit NPC1 function by interfering with intracellular cholesterol trafficking. In this study, we evaluated the sensitivity of BTV to imipramine using in vitro assays. Our results demonstrate that imipramine pretreatment inhibited in vitro replication and progeny release of BTV-4, BTV-8, and BTV-16. Collectively, our findings highlight the importance of NPC1 for BTV infection and recommend the reprofiling of imipramine as a potential antiviral drug against BTV.

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