Identification of compounds with anti-West Nile virus activity

John R. Goodell, Francesc Puig-Basagoiti, Brett M. Forshey, Pei Yong Shi, David M. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


The lack of antiviral compounds targeting flaviviruses represents a significant problem in the development of strategies for treating West Nile Virus (WNV), Dengue, and Yellow Fever infections. Using WNV high-throughput screening techniques developed in our laboratories, we report the identification of several small molecule anti-WNV compounds belonging to four different structural classes including pyrazolines, xanthanes, acridines, and quinolines. The initial set of "hits" was further refined using cell viability-cytotoxicity assays to two 1,3,5-triaryl pyrazoline compounds: 1-(4-chlorophenylacetyl)-5-(4-nitrophenyl)-3-(thiophen-2-yl)-4, 5-dihydro-1H-pyrazole and 1-benzoyl-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-3-(thiophen-2-yl)-4,5- dihydro-1H-pyrazole. On the basis of their activity and favorable therapeutic indexes, these compounds were identified as viable leads and subjected to additional evaluation using an authentic viral titer reduction assay employing an epidemic strain of WNV. The compounds were further evaluated in a transient replicon reporting system to gain insight into the mechanism of action by identifying the step at which inhibition takes place during viral replication. The results indicate the pyrazolines inhibit RNA synthesis, pointing to viral RNA polymerase, RNA helicase, or other viral replication enzymes as potential targets. Progress was also made in understanding the structural requirements for activity by synthesizing a focused chemical library of substituted pyrazolines. Preliminary SAR data are presented that show the aryl-rings are required for activity against WNV. More importantly, the results indicate WNV activity is tolerant to aryl-substitutions paving the way for the design and development of much larger combinatorial libraries with varied physicochemical properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2127-2137
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of medicinal chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 23 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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