• The SKI complex is a broad-spectrum, host-directed antiviral drug target for coronaviruses, influenza, and filoviruses.

      Weston, Stuart; Baracco, Lauren; Keller, Chloe; Matthews, Krystal; McGrath, Marisa E; Logue, James; Liang, Janie; Dyall, Julie; Holbrook, Michael R; Hensley, Lisa E; et al. (National Academy of Sciences, 2020-11-12)
      The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has made it clear that we have a desperate need for antivirals. We present work that the mammalian SKI complex is a broad-spectrum, host-directed, antiviral drug target. Yeast suppressor screening was utilized to find a functional genetic interaction between proteins from influenza A virus (IAV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) with eukaryotic proteins that may be potential host factors involved in replication. This screening identified the SKI complex as a potential host factor for both viruses. In mammalian systems siRNA-mediated knockdown of SKI genes inhibited replication of IAV and MERS-CoV. In silico modeling and database screening identified a binding pocket on the SKI complex and compounds predicted to bind. Experimental assays of those compounds identified three chemical structures that were antiviral against IAV and MERS-CoV along with the filoviruses Ebola and Marburg and two further coronaviruses, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. The mechanism of antiviral activity is through inhibition of viral RNA production. This work defines the mammalian SKI complex as a broad-spectrum antiviral drug target and identifies lead compounds for further development.