The HIV Integrase Inhibitor Raltegravir Inhibits Felid Alphaherpesvirus 1 Replication by Targeting both DNA Replication and Late Gene Expression.

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Alphaherpesvirus-associated ocular infections in humans caused by human alphaherpesvirus 1 (HHV-1) remain challenging to treat due to the frequency of drug application required and the potential for the selection of drug-resistant viruses. Repurposing on-the-market drugs is a viable strategy to accelerate the pace of drug development. It has been reported that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) integrase inhibitor raltegravir inhibits HHV-1 replication by targeting the DNA polymerase accessory factor and limits terminase-mediated genome cleavage of human betaherpesvirus 5 (HHV-5). We have previously shown, both in vitro and in vivo, that raltegravir can also inhibit the replication of felid alphaherpesvirus 1 (FeHV-1), a common ocular pathogen of cats with a pathogenesis similar to that of HHV-1 ocular disease. In contrast to what was reported for HHV-1, we were unable to select for a raltegravir-resistant FeHV-1 strain in order to define any basis for drug action. A candidate-based approach to explore the mode of action of raltegravir against FeHV-1 showed that raltegravir did not impact FeHV-1 terminase function, as described for HHV-5. Instead, raltegravir inhibited DNA replication, similarly to HHV-1, but by targeting the initiation of viral DNA replication rather than elongation. In addition, we found that raltegravir specifically repressed late gene expression independently of DNA replication, and both activities are consistent with inhibition of ICP8. Taken together, these results suggest that raltegravir could be a valuable therapeutic agent against herpesviruses.IMPORTANCE The rise of drug-resistant herpesviruses is a longstanding concern, particularly among immunocompromised patients. Therefore, therapies targeting viral proteins other than the DNA polymerase that may be less likely to lead to drug-resistant viruses are urgently needed. Using FeHV-1, an alphaherpesvirus closely related to HHV-1 that similarly causes ocular herpes in its natural host, we found that the HIV integrase inhibitor raltegravir targets different stages of the virus life cycle beyond DNA replication and that it does so without developing drug resistance under the conditions tested. This shows that the drug could provide a viable strategy for the treatment of herpesvirus infections.

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Journal of virology

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