The paramyxovirus family includes major human and animal pathogens, including measles virus, mumps virus, and human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), as well as the emerging zoonotic Hendra and Nipah viruses. In the U.S., RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalizations due to viral infectious disease. Despite their clinical significance, effective drugs for the improved management of paramyxovirus disease are lacking. The development of novel anti-paramyxovirus therapeutics is therefore urgently needed. Paramyxoviruses contain RNA genomes of negative polarity, necessitating a virus-encoded RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) complex for replication and transcription. Since an equivalent enzymatic activity is absent in host cells, the RdRp complex represents an attractive druggable target, although structure-guided drug development campaigns are hampered by the lack of high-resolution RdRp crystal structures. Here, we review the current structural and functional insight into the paramyxovirus polymerase complex in conjunction with an evaluation of the mechanism of activity and developmental status of available experimental RdRp inhibitors. Our assessment spotlights the importance of the RdRp complex as a premier target for therapeutic intervention and examines how high-resolution insight into the organization of the complex will pave the path toward the structure-guided design and optimization of much-needed next-generation paramyxovirus RdRp blockers.
Cox R and Plemper RK (2015) The paramyxovirus polymerase complex as a target for next-generation anti-paramyxovirus therapeutics. Front. Microbiol. 6:459. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00459
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