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The Rac1 Inhibitor NSC23766 Exerts Anti-Influenza Virus Properties by Affecting the Viral Polymerase
The frequent emergence of new influenza viruses in the human population underlines the urgent need for antiviral therapeutics in addition to the preventative vaccination against the seasonal flu. To circumvent the development of resistance, recent antiviral approaches target cellular proteins needed by the virus for efficient replication. We investigated the contribution of the small GTPase Rac1 to the replication of influenza viruses. Inhibition of Rac1 by NSC23766 resulted in impaired replication of a wide variety of influenza viruses, including a human virus strain of the pandemic from 2009 as well as highly pathogenic avian virus strains. Furthermore, we identified a crucial role of Rac1 for the activity of the viral polymerase complex. The antiviral potential of NSC23766 was confirmed in mouse experiments, identifying Rac1 as a new cellular target for therapeutic treatment of influenza virus infections.