A wide variety of viruses cause significant morbidity and mortality in humans. However, targeted antiviral therapies have been developed for only a subset of these viruses, with the majority of currently licensed antiviral drugs targeting viral entry, replication or exit steps during the viral life cycle. Due to increasing emergence of antiviral drug resistant viruses, the isolation of multiple viral subtypes, and toxicities of existing therapies, there remains an urgent need for the timely development of novel antiviral agents, including those targeting host factors essential for viral replication. This review summarizes viral products that target mitochondria and their effects on common mitochondria regulated pathways. These viral products and the mitochondrial pathways affected by them provide potential novel targets for the rational design of antiviral drugs. Viral products alter oxidative balance, mitochondrial permeability transition pore, mitochondrial membrane potential, electron transport and energy production. Moreover, viruses may cause the Warburg Effect, in which metabolism is reprogrammed to aerobic glycolysis as the main source of energy. Finally, viral products affect proapoptotic and antiapoptotic signaling, as well as mitochondrial innate immune signaling. Because of their importance for the generation of metabolic intermediates and energy as well as cell survival, mitochondrial pathways are targeted by multiple independent viral products. Structural modifications of existing drugs targeted to mitochondrial pathways may lead to the development of novel antiviral drugs with improved efficacy and reduced toxicity.
Keywords: Antiviral drugs, calcium signaling, endoplasmic reticulum, human viruses, metabolism, mitochondria, mitochondria-associated membranes, reactive oxygen species, oxidative balance, Warburg Effect
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