A recombinant Cedar virus based high-throughput screening assay for henipavirus antiviral discovery

Moushimi Amaya, Han Cheng, Viktoriya Borisevich, Chanakha K. Navaratnarajah, Roberto Cattaneo, Laura Cooper, Terry W. Moore, Irina N. Gaisina, Thomas W. Geisbert, Lijun Rong, Christopher C. Broder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Nipah virus (NiV) and Hendra virus (HeV) are highly pathogenic, bat-borne paramyxoviruses in the genus Henipavirus that cause severe and often fatal acute respiratory and/or neurologic diseases in humans and livestock. There are currently no approved antiviral therapeutics or vaccines for use in humans to treat or prevent NiV or HeV infection. To facilitate development of henipavirus antivirals, a high-throughput screening (HTS) platform was developed based on a well-characterized recombinant version of the nonpathogenic Henipavirus, Cedar virus (rCedV). Using reverse genetics, a rCedV encoding firefly luciferase (rCedV-Luc) was rescued and its utility evaluated for high-throughput antiviral compound screening. The luciferase reporter gene signal kinetics of rCedV-Luc in different human cell lines was characterized and validated as an authentic real-time measure of viral growth. The rCedV-Luc platform was optimized as an HTS assay that demonstrated high sensitivity with robust Z′ scores, excellent signal-to-background ratios and coefficients of variation. Eight candidate compounds that inhibited rCedV replication were identified for additional validation and demonstrated that 4 compounds inhibited authentic NiV-Bangladesh replication. Further evaluation of 2 of the 4 validated compounds in a 9-point dose response titration demonstrated potent antiviral activity against NiV-Bangladesh and HeV, with minimal cytotoxicity. This rCedV reporter can serve as a surrogate yet authentic BSL-2 henipavirus platform that will dramatically accelerate drug candidate identification in the development of anti-henipavirus therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105084
JournalAntiviral research
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiviral
  • Cedar virus
  • Henipavirus
  • High-throughput screening assay
  • Inhibitor
  • Luciferase assay
  • Reverse genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Virology


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