Design and evaluation of neutralizing and fusion inhibitory peptides to Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus

Megan C. Mears, Sergio E. Rodriguez, Katharina S. Schmitz, Angel Padilla, Sudipta Biswas, Maria N.B. Cajimat, Chad E. Mire, Stephen R. Welch, Éric Bergeron, Christopher A. Alabi, Matteo Porotto, Dennis A. Bente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a medically relevant tick-borne viral disease caused by the Bunyavirus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV). CCHFV is endemic to Asia, the Middle East, South-eastern Europe, and Africa and is transmitted in enzootic cycles among ticks, mammals, and birds. Human infections are mostly subclinical or limited to mild febrile illness. Severe disease may develop, resulting in multi-organ failure, hemorrhagic manifestations, and case-fatality rates up to 30%. Despite the widespread distribution and life-threatening potential, no treatments have been approved for CCHF. Antiviral inhibitory peptides, which antagonize viral entry, are licensed for clinical use in certain viral infections and have been experimentally designed against human pathogenic bunyaviruses, with in vitro and in vivo efficacies. We designed inhibitory peptides against CCHFV with and without conjugation to various polyethylene glycol and sterol groups. These additions have been shown to enhance both cellular uptake and antiviral activity. Peptides were evaluated against pseudotyped and wild-type CCHFV via neutralization tests, Nairovirus fusion assays, and cytotoxicity profiling. Four peptides neutralized CCHFV with two of these peptides shown to inhibit viral fusion. This work represents the development of experimental countermeasures for CCHF, describes a nairovirus immunofluorescence fusion assay, and illustrates the utility of pseudotyped CCHFV for the screening of entry antagonists at low containment settings for CCHF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105401
JournalAntiviral research
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • CCHFV glycoprotein
  • Cholesterol-conjugated peptides
  • Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic Fever virus
  • Fusion inhibitor
  • Nairovirus fusion assay
  • Neutralization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Virology


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