2022 Volume 70 Issue 3 Pages 220-225
We previously showed that 5-ethynyl-(1-β-D-ribofuranosyl)imidazole-4-carboxamide (1; EICAR) is a potent anti-dengue virus (DENV) compound but is cytotoxic to some cell lines, while its 4-thio derivative, 5-ethynyl-(4-thio-1-β-D-ribofuranosyl)imidazole-4-carboxamide (2; 4′-thioEICAR), has less cytotoxicity but also less anti-DENV activity. Based on the hypothesis that the lower anti-DENV activity of 2 is due to reduced susceptibility to phosphorylation by cellular kinase(s), we investigated whether a monophosphate prodrug of 2 can improve its activity. Here, we first prepared two types of prodrug of 1, which revealed that the S-acyl-2-thioethyl (SATE) prodrug had stronger anti-DENV activity than the aryloxyphosphoramidate (so-called ProTide) prodrug. Based on these findings, we next prepared the SATE prodrug of 4′-thioEICAR 18. As expected, the resulting 18 showed potent anti-DENV activity, which was comparable to that of 1; however, its cytotoxicity was also increased relative to 2. Our findings suggest that prodrugs of 4′-thioribonucleoside derivatives such as EICAR (1) represent an effective approach to developing potent biologically active compounds; however, the balance between antiviral activity and cytotoxicity remains to be addressed.