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Open Access Research article

Identification of natural antimicrobial agents to treat dengue infection: In vitro analysis of latarcin peptide activity against dengue virus

Hussin A Rothan1*, Hirbod Bahrani1, Noorsaadah Abd Rahman2 and Rohana Yusof1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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BMC Microbiology 2014, 14:140  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-140

Published: 31 May 2014



Although there have been considerable advances in the study of dengue virus, no vaccines or anti-dengue drugs are currently available for humans. Therefore, new approaches are necessary for the development of potent anti-dengue drugs. Natural antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) with potent antiviral activities are potential hits-to-leads for antiviral drug discovery. We performed this study to identify and characterise the inhibitory potential of the latarcin peptide (Ltc 1, SMWSGMWRRKLKKLRNALKKKLKGE) against dengue virus replication in infected cells.


The Ltc 1 peptide showed a significantly inhibitory effect against the dengue protease NS2B-NS3pro at 37°C, a physiological human temperature, (IC50, 12.68 ± 3.2 μM), and greater inhibitory effect was observed at 40°C, a temperature similar to a high fever (IC50, 6.58 ± 4.1 μM). A greater reduction in viral load (p.f.u./ml) was observed at simultaneous (0.7 ± 0.3 vs. 7.2 ± 0.5 control) and post-treatment (1.8 ± 0.7 vs. 6.8 ± 0.6 control) compared to the pre-treatment (4.5 ± 0.6 vs. 6.9 ± 0.5 control). Treatment with the Ltc 1 peptide reduced the viral RNA in a dose-dependent manner with EC50 values of 8.3 ± 1.2, 7.6 ± 2.7 and 6.8 ± 2.5 μM at 24, 48 and 72 h, respectively.


The Ltc 1 peptide exhibited significant inhibitory effects against dengue NS2B-NS3pro and virus replication in the infected cells. Therefore, further investigation is necessary to develop the Ltc 1 peptide as a new anti-dengue therapeutic.

Latarcin peptide; Dengue virus; NS2B-NS3 Protease; Protease activity; Viral inhibition