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Mol Cell ; 82(1): 15-29, 2022 01 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1525902


Deubiquitinases (DUBs) are specialized proteases that remove ubiquitin from substrates or cleave within ubiquitin chains to regulate ubiquitylation and therefore play important roles in eukaryotic biology. Dysregulation of DUBs is implicated in several human diseases, highlighting the importance of DUB function. In addition, many pathogenic bacteria and viruses encode and deploy DUBs to manipulate host immune responses and establish infectious diseases in humans and animals. Hence, therapeutic targeting of DUBs is an increasingly explored area that requires an in-depth mechanistic understanding of human and pathogenic DUBs. In this review, we summarize the multiple layers of regulation that control autoinhibition, activation, and substrate specificity of DUBs. We discuss different strategies to inhibit DUBs and the progress in developing selective small-molecule DUB inhibitors. Finally, we propose a classification system of DUB inhibitors based on their mode of action.

COVID-19 , Deubiquitinating Enzymes , Enzyme Inhibitors/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2 , Ubiquitination/drug effects , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/enzymology , Deubiquitinating Enzymes/antagonists & inhibitors , Deubiquitinating Enzymes/metabolism , Humans
PLoS One ; 16(7): e0253364, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1315884


Of the 16 non-structural proteins (Nsps) encoded by SARS CoV-2, Nsp3 is the largest and plays important roles in the viral life cycle. Being a large, multidomain, transmembrane protein, Nsp3 has been the most challenging Nsp to characterize. Encoded within Nsp3 is the papain-like protease domain (PLpro) that cleaves not only the viral polypeptide but also K48-linked polyubiquitin and the ubiquitin-like modifier, ISG15, from host cell proteins. We here compare the interactors of PLpro and Nsp3 and find a largely overlapping interactome. Intriguingly, we find that near full length Nsp3 is a more active protease compared to the minimal catalytic domain of PLpro. Using a MALDI-TOF based assay, we screen 1971 approved clinical compounds and identify five compounds that inhibit PLpro with IC50s in the low micromolar range but showed cross reactivity with other human deubiquitinases and had no significant antiviral activity in cellular SARS-CoV-2 infection assays. We therefore looked for alternative methods to block PLpro activity and engineered competitive nanobodies that bind to PLpro at the substrate binding site with nanomolar affinity thus inhibiting the enzyme. Our work highlights the importance of studying Nsp3 and provides tools and valuable insights to investigate Nsp3 biology during the viral infection cycle.

Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Protease Inhibitors/pharmacology , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/antagonists & inhibitors , Single-Chain Antibodies/pharmacology , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , A549 Cells , Antigen-Antibody Complex , Humans , Inhibitory Concentration 50 , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/immunology , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/metabolism , Single-Chain Antibodies/immunology , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/immunology , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism
Biochem J ; 478(13): 2517-2531, 2021 07 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1290988


The COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as the biggest life-threatening disease of this century. Whilst vaccination should provide a long-term solution, this is pitted against the constant threat of mutations in the virus rendering the current vaccines less effective. Consequently, small molecule antiviral agents would be extremely useful to complement the vaccination program. The causative agent of COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which encodes at least nine enzymatic activities that all have drug targeting potential. The papain-like protease (PLpro) contained in the nsp3 protein generates viral non-structural proteins from a polyprotein precursor, and cleaves ubiquitin and ISG protein conjugates. Here we describe the expression and purification of PLpro. We developed a protease assay that was used to screen a custom compound library from which we identified dihydrotanshinone I and Ro 08-2750 as compounds that inhibit PLpro in protease and isopeptidase assays and also inhibit viral replication in cell culture-based assays.

Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/antagonists & inhibitors , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , Small Molecule Libraries/pharmacology , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/pharmacology , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/pharmacology , Aniline Compounds/pharmacology , Animals , Benzamides/pharmacology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/genetics , Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/isolation & purification , Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/metabolism , Drug Synergism , Enzyme Assays , Flavins/pharmacology , Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer , Furans/pharmacology , High-Throughput Screening Assays , Inhibitory Concentration 50 , Naphthalenes/pharmacology , Phenanthrenes/pharmacology , Quinones/pharmacology , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , Small Molecule Libraries/chemistry , Vero Cells , Virus Replication/drug effects