Novel dengue virus inhibitor 4-HPR activates ATF4 independent of protein kinase R–like Endoplasmic Reticulum Kinase and elevates levels of eIF2α phosphorylation in virus infected cells

J.E. Fraser, C. Wang, K.W.K. Chan, S.G. Vasudevan, D.A. Jans

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Infections by dengue virus (DENV) are increasing worldwide, with an urgent need for effective anti-DENV agents. We recently identified N-(4-hydroxyphenyl) retinamide (4-HPR), an anti-DENV agent effective against all 4 serotypes of DENV in cell culture, and in a lethal mouse model for DENV infection ( Fraser et al., 2014b). Although identified as an inhibitor of DENV non-structural protein 5 (NS5) recognition by host nuclear import proteins, the precise impact and mode of action of 4-HPR in effecting DENV clearance remains to be defined. Significantly, concurrent with decreased viral RNA and infectious DENV in 4-HPR-treated cells, we previously observed specific up-regulation of transcripts representing the Protein Kinase R–like Endoplasmic Reticulum Kinase (PERK) arm of the unfolded protein response (UPR) pathway upon 4-HPR addition. Here we pursue these findings in detail, examining the role of specific PERK pathway components in DENV clearance. We demonstrate that 4-HPR-induced nuclear localization of Activating Transcription Factor 4 (ATF4), a pathway component downstream from PERK, occurs in a PERK-independent manner, implying activation instead occurs through Integrated Stress Response (ISR) kinases. Significantly, ATF4 does not appear to be required for the antiviral activity of 4-HPR, suggesting transcriptional events induced by ATF4 do not drive the 4-HPR-induced antiviral state. Instead, we demonstrate that 4-HPR induces phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α), a target of ISR kinases which controls translation attenuation, and confirm the importance of phosphorylated-eIF2α in DENV infection using guanabenz, a specific inhibitor of eIF2α dephosphorylation. This study provides the first detailed insight into the cellular effects modulated by 4-HPR in DENV-infected cells, critical to progressing 4-HPR towards the clinic.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalAntiviral Research
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • dengue virus
  • unfolded protein response
  • translation attenuation
  • integrated stress response
  • antiviral
  • guanabenz

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