Design of Neuraminidase-Targeted Imaging and Therapeutic Agents for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Influenza Virus Infections

Xin Liu, Weichuan Luo, Boning Zhang, Yong Gu Lee, Imrul Shahriar, Madduri Srinivasarao, Philip S. Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The last step in influenza virus replication involves the assembly of viral components on the infected cell's plasma membrane followed by budding of intact virus from the host cell surface. Because viral neuraminidase and hemagglutinin are both inserted into the host cell's membrane during this process, influenza virus-infected cells are distinguished from uninfected cells by the presence of viral neuraminidase and hemagglutinin on their cell surfaces. In an effort to exploit this difference in cell surface markers for development of diagnostic and therapeutic agents, we have modified an influenza neuraminidase inhibitor, zanamivir, for targeting of attached imaging and therapeutic agents selectively to influenza viruses and virus-infected cells. We have designed here a zanamivir-conjugated rhodamine dye that allows visual monitoring of binding, internalization, and intracellular trafficking of the fluorescence-labeled neuraminidase in virus-infected cells. We also synthesize a zanamivir-99mTc radioimaging conjugate that permits whole body imaging of the virus's biodistribution and abundance in infected mice. Finally, we create both a zanamivir-targeted cytotoxic drug (i.e., zanamivir-tubulysin B) and a viral neuraminidase-targeted CAR T cell and demonstrate that they are both able to kill viral neuraminidase-expressing cells without damaging healthy cells. Taken together, these data suggest that the influenza virus neuraminidase inhibitor, zanamivir, can be exploited to improve the diagnosis, imaging, and treatment of influenza virus infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1548-1553
Number of pages6
JournalBioconjugate chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 18 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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