Identification of hydroxyanthraquinones as novel inhibitors of hepatitis C Virus NS3 helicase

Atsushi Furuta, Masayoshi Tsubuki, Miduki Endoh, Tatsuki Miyamoto, Junichi Tanaka, Kazi Abdus Salam, Nobuyoshi Akimitsu, Hidenori Tani, Atsuya Yamashita, Kohji Moriishi, Masamichi Nakakoshi, Yuji Sekiguchi, Satoshi Tsuneda, Naohiro Noda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an important etiological agent of severe liver diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The HCV genome encodes nonstructural protein 3 (NS3) helicase, which is a potential anti-HCV drug target because its enzymatic activity is essential for viral replication. Some anthracyclines are known to be NS3 helicase inhibitors and have a hydroxyanthraquinone moiety in their structures; mitoxantrone, a hydroxyanthraquinone analogue, is also known to inhibit NS3 helicase. Therefore, we hypothesized that the hydroxyanthraquinone moiety alone could also inhibit NS3 helicase. Here, we performed a structure–activity relationship study on a series of hydroxyanthraquinones by using a fluorescence-based helicase assay. Hydroxyanthraquinones inhibited NS3 helicase with IC50 values in the micromolar range. The inhibitory activity varied depending on the number and position of the phenolic hydroxyl groups, and among different hydroxyanthraquinones examined, 1,4,5,8-tetrahydroxyanthraquinone strongly inhibited NS3 helicase with an IC50 value of 6 μM. Furthermore, hypericin and sennidin A, which both have two hydroxyanthraquinone-like moieties, were found to exert even stronger inhibition with IC50 values of 3 and 0.8 μM, respectively. These results indicate that the hydroxyanthraquinone moiety can inhibit NS3 helicase and suggest that several key chemical structures are important for the inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18439-18453
Number of pages15
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Aug 7


  • Fluorescence resonance energy transfer
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Hydroxyanthraquinone
  • Hypericin
  • Inhibitor
  • NS3 helicase
  • Sennidin A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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