Open Access
Wu, Runzhi
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 03, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Dr Blake R Peterson, Dissertation Advisor
  • Raymond Lee Funk, Committee Chair
  • Blake R Peterson, Committee Member
  • Philip C. Bevilacqua, Committee Member
  • Gong Chen, Committee Member
  • Avery August, Committee Member
  • antiviral agent
  • nucleoside
  • fluorescent molecule
RNA viruses cause a wide variety of diseases including SARS, influenza, hepatitis C and polio. Therapeutics for RNA virus infections are often limited because of the rapid development of antiviral drug resistance. RNA viruses are known to exhibit high error rates during replication and thus exist as quasispecies. To maintain the maximum adaptability, these viruses exist on the edge of “error catastrophe”, and small increases in the mutation frequency can cause a drastic decrease in viral infectivity. By taking advantage of the high mutation rate of RNA virus replication, a relatively new antiviral approach termed “lethal mutagenesis” can be used to increase the error rate of RNA viral replication to intolerable levels, resulting in the loss of viral viability. Chapter one of this dissertation reviews current antiviral therapeutics and lethal mutagenesis as an antiviral strategy. The clinically used antiviral drug ribavirin represents an agent that functions as a lethal mutagen against poliovirus (PV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). This drug is converted intracellularly to the 5'-triphosphate (RTP), which is a degenerate substrate of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRP). Once in the genome, ribavirin promotes mutagenesis by templating the incorporation of both C and U during multiple rounds of viral replication, leading to error catastrophe and decreased infectivity of the virus. The work described herein includes efforts to design and synthesize novel antiviral nucleosides and probe their mechanism of action. In chapter two, we report the synthesis and antiviral effects of bioisosteric deaza analogues of 6-methyl-9-β-D-ribofuranosylpurine, a hydrophobic analogue of adenosine. Whereas the 1-deaza and 3-deaza analogues are essentially inactive in whole cell assays, a novel 7-deaza-6-methyl-9-β-D-ribofuranosylpurine analogue, structurally related to the natural product tubercidin, potently inhibited replication of poliovirus (PV) in HeLa cells (IC50 = 11 nM) and dengue virus (DENV) in Vero cells (IC50 = 62 nM) as evidenced by plaque assays. Moreover, selectivity against PV over cytotoxic effects to HeLa cells was >100-fold after incubation for 7 h. We further found that the putative triphosphate metabolite of this 7-deaza analogue was effectively incorporated into RNA by PV RdRP. Chapter three describes studies of the pyrazinecarboxamide compound T-1106 as an antiviral agent. Although this compound is active against several RNA viruses, its mechanism of action is poorly understood. Only a single patent has reported the synthesis of T-1106, and the coupling of its nucleobase with ribose leads to a mixture of α and β anomers. Improved Vorbrüggen coupling conditions were developed here to achieve a stereoselective synthesis of this compound. Treatment of PV infected HeLa cells with 1 mM T-1106 caused a dramatic decrease of viral titer, and the corresponding triphosphate was found to be incorporated by PV RdRP across all four natural nucleotides. Chapter four focuses on another topic, development of new analogues of rhodamine as red fluorescent probes. As members of the xanthene class of dyes, rhodamines often exhibit high fluorescence quantum yields, pH-insensitivity, excellent photostability and photophysical properties. For these reasons, rhodamines are widely used as probes for labeling of biomolecules and construction of chemosensors. Three novel hydrophobic rhodamine analogues with good photophysical properties were designed and synthesized. The ability of biotinylated derivatives of these fluorophores to bind streptavidin fusion proteins expressed in living yeast cells was investigated.