The hepatitis B virus (HBV) reverse transcriptase (RT) plays a multitude of fundamental roles in the viral life cycle and is the key target in the development of anti-HBV chemotherapy. We report here that the endogenous small molecule iron protoporphyrin IX (hemin) and several related porphyrin compounds potently blocked a critical RT interaction with the viral RNA packaging signal/origin of replication, called ε. As RT-ε interaction is essential for the initiation of viral reverse transcription, which is primed by RT itself (protein priming), the porphyrin compounds dramatically suppressed the protein-priming reaction. Further studies demonstrated that these compounds could target the unique N-terminal domain of the RT protein, the so-called terminal protein. Hemin and related porphyrin compounds thus represent a novel class of agents that can block HBV RT functions through a mechanism and target that are completely distinct from those of existing anti-HBV drugs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science