Suppression of classical nuclear import pathway by importazole and ivermectin inhibits rotavirus replication

Rakesh Sarkar, Shreya Banerjee, Prolay Halder, Hemanta Koley, Satoshi Komoto, Mamta Chawla-Sarkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Rotavirus is the foremost cause of acute gastroenteritis among infants in resource-poor countries, causing severe morbidity and mortality. The currently available rotavirus vaccines are effective in reducing severity of the disease but not the infection rates, thus antivirals as an adjunct therapy are needed to reduce the morbidity in children. Viruses rely on host cellular machinery for nearly every step of the replication cycle. Therefore, targeting host factors that are indispensable for virus replication could be a promising strategy. OBJECTIVES: To assess the therapeutic potential of ivermectin and importazole against rotaviruses. METHODS: Antirotaviral activity of importazole and ivermectin was measured against various rotavirus strains (RV-SA11, RV-Wa, RV-A5-13, RV-EW) in vitro and in vivo by quantifying viral protein expression by western blot, analysing viroplasm formation by confocal microscopy, and measuring virus yield by plaque assay. RESULTS: Importin-β1 and Ran were found to be induced during rotavirus infection. Knocking down importin-β1 severely impaired rotavirus replication, suggesting a critical role for importin-β1 in the rotavirus life cycle. In vitro studies revealed that treatment of ivermectin and importazole resulted in reduced synthesis of viral proteins, diminished production of infectious virus particles, and decrease in viroplasm-positive cells. Mechanistic study proved that both drugs perform antirotavirus activity by inhibiting the function of importin-β1. In vivo investigations in mice also confirmed the antirotavirus potential of importazole and ivermectin at non-toxic doses. Treatments of rotavirus-infected mice with either drug resulted in diminished shedding of viral particles in the stool sample, reduced expression of viral protein in the small intestine and restoration of damaged intestinal villi comapared to untreated infected mice. CONCLUSIONS: The study highlights the potential of importazole and ivermectin as antirotavirus therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3443-3455
Number of pages13
JournalThe Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 28-11-2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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