Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.492, No.4, 668-673, 2017
Increased activity of unlinked Zika virus NS2B/NS3 protease compared to linked Zika virus protease
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a flavivirus spread by daytime-active Aedes spp. mosquitoes such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus. Previously thought to be a mild infection, the latest ZIKV outbreak in the Americas is causally associated with more severe symptoms as well as severe birth defects, such as microcephaly. Currently no vaccine or antiviral exists. However, recent progress has demonstrated the viral NS2B/NS3 protease may be a suitable target for the development of small-molecule antiviral agents. To better understand the ZIKV protease, we expressed, purified, and characterized unlinked and linked NS2B/NS3 protease corresponding to an isolate from the recent outbreak in Puerto Rico. Unlinked ZIKV protease is more active and binds substrate with greater affinity than linked ZIKV protease. Therefore, we propose that unlinked ZIKV protease be used when evaluating or designing ZIKV protease inhibitors. Additionally, potent inhibitors of related viral proteases, like West Nile Virus and Dengue virus, may serve as advanced starting points to identify and develop ZIKV protease inhibitors. (C) 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.