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Virologica Sinica, 33 (6) : 545, 2018
Research Article
The Scorpion Venom Peptide Smp76 Inhibits Viral Infection by Regulating Type-I Interferon Response
1 State Key Laboratory of Virology, Modern Virology Research Center, College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
2 Bio-drug Research Center, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
3 International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi, Karachi 75270, Pakistan
4 Hubei Province Engineering and Technology Research, Center for Fluorinated Pharmaceuticals, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
 Correspondence: zjcao@whu.edu.cn
(1665.62KB)  (402.80KB)  
Dengue virus (DENV) and Zika virus (ZIKV) have spread throughout many countries in the developing world and infect millions of people every year, causing severe harm to human health and the economy. Unfortunately, there are few effective vaccines and therapies available against these viruses. Therefore, the discovery of new antiviral agents is critical. Herein, a scorpion venom peptide (Smp76) characterized from Scorpio maurus palmatus was successfully expressed and purified in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3). The recombinant Smp76 (rSmp76) was found to effectively inhibit DENV and ZIKV infections in a dose-dependent manner in both cultured cell lines and primary mouse macrophages. Interestingly, rSmp76 did not inactivate the viral particles directly but suppressed the established viral infection, similar to the effect of interferon (IFN)-β. Mechanistically, rSmp76 was revealed to upregulate the expression of IFN-β by activating interferon regulatory transcription factor 3 (IRF3) phosphorylation, enhancing the type-I IFN response and inhibiting viral infection. This mechanism is significantly different from traditional virucidal antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Overall, the scorpion venom peptide Smp76 is a potential new antiviral agent with a unique mechanism involving type-I IFN responses, demonstrating that natural AMPs can enhance immunity by functioning as immunomodulators.
Received: 9 Aug 2018  Accepted: 7 Nov 2018  Published online: 19 Dec 2018
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