Saikosaponin D suppresses enterovirus A71 infection by inhibiting autophagy

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Chang Li
  • Ying Chen
  • Jianbo Yue
  • Heather Ballard


Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Journal / PublicationSignal Transduction and Targeted Therapy
Online published22 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019



The dysregulation of autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved lysosomal degradation process, has been implicated in a wide variety of human diseases, and thus, small chemicals that modulate autophagy have therapeutic potential. Here, we assessed the ability of active components isolated from Bupleurum falcatum, a popular Chinese herb, to modulate autophagy. We found that saikosaponin D (SsD) and A (SsA) but not C (SsC) potently and reversibly inhibited the fusion of autophagosomes and lysosomes, resulting in the accumulation of autophagosomes, an increased lysosomal pH, and TFEB nuclear translocation. RAB5A knockdown or the expression of a dominant-negative RAB5 mutant significantly reduced the ability of SsD or SsA to block autophagy. Enterovirus A71 (EV-A71), the cause of hand-foot-mouth disease, has been shown to induce autophagy. We found that SsD potently inhibited EV-A71 RNA replication and subsequent viral protein synthesis, thereby preventing EV-A71-induced cell death. ATG5 knockdown inhibited EV-A71 viral protein synthesis, whereas autophagy induction by rapamycin promoted synthesis. Taken together, our data indicate that SsD and SsA are potent late-stage autophagy inhibitors that can be used to prevent EV-A71 infection.

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