Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The susceptibility of the bicyclic nucleoside analogs (BCNAs), highly potent and selective inhibitors of varicella-zoster virus (VZV), to the enzymes involved in nucleoside/nucleobase catabolism has been investigated in comparison with the established anti-VZV agent (E)-5-(2-bromovinyl)-2'-deoxyuridine [BVDU; brivudine (Zostex)]. Whereas human and bacterial thymidine phosphorylases (TPases) efficiently converted BVDU to its antivirally inactive free base (E)-5-(2-bromovinyl)uracil (BVU), BCNAs showed no evidence of conversion to the free base in the presence of these enzymes. The lack of substrate affinity of TPase for the BCNAs could be rationalized by computer-assisted molecular modeling of the BCNAs in the TPase active site. Moreover, in contrast with BVU, which is a potent and selective inhibitor of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) (50% inhibitory concentration; 10 microM in the presence of a 25 microM concentration of the natural substrate thymine), the free base (Cf 1381; 6-octyl-2,3-dihydrofuro[2,3-d]pyrimidin-2-one) of BCNA (Cf 1368; 3-(2'-deoxy-beta-D-ribofuranosyl)-6-octyl-2,3-dihydrofuro[2,3-d]pyrimidin-2-one) and the free base Cf 2200 [6-(4-n-pentylphenyl)-2,3-dihydrofuro[2,3-d]pyrimidin-2-one] of BCNA (Cf 1743; 3-(2'-deoxy-beta-D-ribofuranosyl)-6-(4-n-pentylphenyl)-2,3-dihydrofuro[2,3-d]pyrimidin-2-one) did not inhibit the DPD-catalyzed catabolic reaction of pyrimidine bases (i.e., thymine) and pyrimidine base analogs [i.e., 5-fluorouracil (FU)] at a concentration of 250 microM. Consequently, whereas BVU caused a dramatic rise of FU levels in FU-treated mice, the BCNAs did not affect FU levels in such mice. From our data it is evident that BCNAs represent highly stable anti-VZV compounds that are not susceptible to breakdown by nucleoside/nucleobase catabolic enzymes and are not expected to interfere with cellular catabolic processes such as those involved in FU catabolism.

Original publication




Journal article


Molecular pharmacology

Publication Date





1140 - 1145


Rega Institute for Medical Research, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


Animals, Humans, Mice, Escherichia coli, Herpesvirus 3, Human, Bromouracil, Fluorouracil, Heterocyclic Compounds, 2-Ring, Oxidoreductases, Dihydrouracil Dehydrogenase (NADP), Thymidine Phosphorylase, Nucleosides, Bromodeoxyuridine, Antiviral Agents, Binding Sites, Substrate Specificity, Drug Interactions, Models, Molecular