Ionophore antibiotic X-206 is a potent inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro

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Pandemic spread of emerging human pathogenic viruses, such as the current SARS-CoV-2, poses both an immediate and future challenge to human health and society. Currently, effective treatment of infection with SARS-CoV-2 is limited and broad spectrum antiviral therapies to meet other emerging pandemics are absent leaving the World population largely unprotected. Here, we have identified distinct members of the family of polyether ionophore antibiotics with potent ability to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication and cytopathogenicity in cells. Several compounds from this class displayed more than 100-fold selectivity between viral-induced cytopathogenicity and inhibition of cell viability, however the compound X-206 displayed >500-fold selectivity and was furthermore able to inhibit viral replication even at sub-nM levels. The antiviral mechanism of the polyether ionophores is currently not understood in detail. We demonstrate, e.g. through unbiased bioactivity profiling, that their effects on the host cells differ from those of cationic amphiphiles such as hydroxychloroquine. Collectively, our data suggest that polyether ionophore antibiotics should be subject to further investigations as potential broad-spectrum antiviral agents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104988
JournalAntiviral Research
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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