Macrobrachium rosenbergii nodavirus (MrNv) causes white tail disease (WTD) in giant freshwater prawns, which leads to devastating economic losses in the aquaculture industry. Despite extensive research on MrNv, there is still no antiviral agent to treat WTD. Thus, the main aim of this study was to identify potential anti-MrNv molecules. A 12-mer phage-displayed peptide library was biopanned against the MrNv virus-like particle (VLP). After four rounds of biopanning, two dominant phages harbouring the amino acid sequences HTKQIPRHIYSA and VSRHQSWHPHDL were selected. An equilibrium binding assay in solution was performed to determine the relative dissociation constant (KDrel) of the interaction between the MrNv VLP and the selected fusion phages. Phage-HTKQIPRHIYSA has a KDrel value of 92.4±22.8 nM, and phage-VSRHQSWHPHDL has a KDrel value of 12.7±3.8 nM. An in-cell elisa was used to determine the inhibitory effect of the synthetic peptides towards the entry of MrNv VLP into Spodoptera frugiperda (Sf9) cells. Peptides HTKQIPRHIYSA and VSRHQSWHPHDL inhibited the entry of the MrNv VLP into Sf9 cells with IC50 values of 30.4±3.6 and 26.5±8.8 µM, respectively. Combination of both peptides showed a significantly higher inhibitory effect with an IC50 of 4.9±0.4 µM. An MTT assay revealed that the viability of MrNv-infected cells increased to about 97 % in the presence of both peptides. A real-time RT-PCR assay showed that simultaneous application of both peptides significantly reduced the number of MrNv per infected cell, from 97±9 to 11±4. These peptides are lead compounds which can be further developed into potent anti-MrNv agents.
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