A) The CATC structure has been recently resolved for HSV-1 by Cryo-EM and comprises, among other features, an essential five-helix bundle motif involving three protein chains – pUL17, pUL25, and pUL36 (Dai et al. Science 2018). This protein-protein-interaction is described to be of pivotal importance for virus assembly and tegumentation, which renders it an attractive target that might be exploitable for a broad-spectrum antiherpesviral approach.
B) A similarly interesting and innovative antiherpesviral target may be summarized under the term DNA polymerase accessory proteins, which act as processivity factors in the viral DNA replication process (Weller et al. Expert Opin. Ther. Targets 2013). These proteins, which in case of HSV-1 are referred to as UL42, are reminiscent of the human PCNA sliding clamps. Notably, scientists at HIPS have recently validated the functional bacterial homolog DnaN as an antimycobacterial drug target (Kling et al. Science 2015). Hence, we want to exploit UL42 and its homologs in other herpesviruses as a potential target for novel, potentially broad-spectrum antiherpesviral drugs.
C) In the case of KSHV LANA, which is essential for viral latent replication and persistence, the Schulz and Empting groups have already successfully probed the C-terminal DNA-binding domain for druggability via a fragment-based approach. We were able to identify fragment-sized hits by means of biophysical screening and to optimize them into lead-like compounds, which inhibit the DNA-protein interaction in the low micromolar range (Kirsch et al. 2019). Now, we want to explore a different region of LANA located near the N-terminus for the possibility to interfere with viral replication and persistence. Preliminary data from the Schulz group show that this globular domain provides the platform for the interaction with a cellular annealing helicase.