A fluorescence-based high throughput-screening assay for the SARS-CoV RNA synthesis complex
Eydoux C, Fattorini V, Shannon A, Le TTN, Didier B, Canard B, Guillemot JC
Journal of Virological Methods - vol. 288 114013 (2021)
Journal of Virological Methods
The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) emergence in 2003 introduced the first serious human coronavirus pathogen to an unprepared world. To control emerging viruses, existing successful anti(retro)viral therapies can inspire antiviral strategies, as conserved viral enzymes (eg., viral proteases and RNA-dependent RNA polymerases) represent targets of choice. Since 2003, much effort has been expended in the characterization of the SARS-CoV replication/transcription machinery. Until recently, a pure and highly active preparation of SARS-CoV recombinant RNA synthesis machinery was not available, impeding target-based high throughput screening of drug candidates against this viral family. The current Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic revealed a new pathogen whose RNA synthesis machinery is highly (>96 % aa identity) homologous to SARS-CoV. This phylogenetic relatedness highlights the potential use of conserved replication enzymes to discover inhibitors against this significant pathogen, which in turn, contributes to scientific preparedness against emerging viruses. Here, we report the use of a purified and highly active SARS-CoV replication/transcription complex (RTC) to set-up a high-throughput screening of Coronavirus RNA synthesis inhibitors. The screening of a small (1520 compounds) chemical library of FDA-approved drugs demonstrates the robustness of our assay and will allow to speed-up drug discovery against the SARS-CoV-2.