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Commun Biol ; 4(1): 1076, 2021 09 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1550352


Lysine-selective molecular tweezers are promising drug candidates against proteinopathies, viral infection, and bacterial biofilm. Despite demonstration of their efficacy in multiple cellular and animal models, important questions regarding their mechanism of action, including cell penetrance and intracellular distribution, have not been answered to date. The main impediment to answering these questions has been the low intrinsic fluorescence of the main compound tested to date, called CLR01. Here, we address these questions using new fluorescently labeled molecular tweezers derivatives. We show that these compounds are internalized in neurons and astrocytes, at least partially through dynamin-dependent endocytosis. In addition, we demonstrate that the molecular tweezers concentrate rapidly in acidic compartments, primarily lysosomes. Accumulation of molecular tweezers in lysosomes may occur both through the endosomal-lysosomal pathway and via the autophagy-lysosome pathway. Moreover, by visualizing colocalization of molecular tweezers, lysosomes, and tau aggregates we show that lysosomes likely are the main site for the intracellular anti-amyloid activity of molecular tweezers. These findings have important implications for the mechanism of action of molecular tweezers in vivo, explaining how administration of low doses of the compounds achieves high effective concentrations where they are needed, and supporting the development of these compounds as drugs for currently cureless proteinopathies.

Astrocytes/metabolism , Bridged-Ring Compounds/metabolism , Endosomes/metabolism , Lysine/metabolism , Lysosomes/metabolism , Neurons/metabolism , Organophosphates/metabolism , Animals , Autophagy/drug effects , Cell Line, Tumor , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL
J Am Chem Soc ; 142(40): 17024-17038, 2020 10 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-772998


Broad-spectrum antivirals are powerful weapons against dangerous viruses where no specific therapy exists, as in the case of the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We discovered that a lysine- and arginine-specific supramolecular ligand (CLR01) destroys enveloped viruses, including HIV, Ebola, and Zika virus, and remodels amyloid fibrils in semen that promote viral infection. Yet, it is unknown how CLR01 exerts these two distinct therapeutic activities. Here, we delineate a novel mechanism of antiviral activity by studying the activity of tweezer variants: the "phosphate tweezer" CLR01, a "carboxylate tweezer" CLR05, and a "phosphate clip" PC. Lysine complexation inside the tweezer cavity is needed to antagonize amyloidogenesis and is only achieved by CLR01. Importantly, CLR01 and CLR05 but not PC form closed inclusion complexes with lipid head groups of viral membranes, thereby altering lipid orientation and increasing surface tension. This process disrupts viral envelopes and diminishes infectivity but leaves cellular membranes intact. Consequently, CLR01 and CLR05 display broad antiviral activity against all enveloped viruses tested, including herpesviruses, Measles virus, influenza, and SARS-CoV-2. Based on our mechanistic insights, we potentiated the antiviral, membrane-disrupting activity of CLR01 by introducing aliphatic ester arms into each phosphate group to act as lipid anchors that promote membrane targeting. The most potent ester modifications harbored unbranched C4 units, which engendered tweezers that were approximately one order of magnitude more effective than CLR01 and nontoxic. Thus, we establish the mechanistic basis of viral envelope disruption by specific tweezers and establish a new class of potential broad-spectrum antivirals with enhanced activity.

Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Bridged-Ring Compounds/pharmacology , Organophosphates/pharmacology , Viral Envelope Proteins/drug effects , Acid Phosphatase/chemistry , Acid Phosphatase/metabolism , Amyloid/antagonists & inhibitors , Anti-HIV Agents/chemistry , Anti-HIV Agents/pharmacology , Arginine/chemistry , Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Bridged-Ring Compounds/chemistry , Cell Membrane/chemistry , Cell Membrane/drug effects , Cell Membrane/virology , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV-1/drug effects , Humans , Lipids/chemistry , Lysine/chemistry , Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy , Organophosphates/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2 , Seminal Vesicle Secretory Proteins/chemistry , Seminal Vesicle Secretory Proteins/metabolism , Structure-Activity Relationship , Viral Envelope Proteins/metabolism , Zika Virus/drug effects