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1.
Front Chem ; 10: 861209, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1952251

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated, emphasizing the need for additional antiviral treatment options to prevent hospitalization and death of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. The papain-like protease (PLpro) domain is part of the SARS-CoV-2 non-structural protein (nsp)-3, and represents an essential protease and validated drug target for preventing viral replication. PLpro moonlights as a deubiquitinating (DUB) and deISGylating enzyme, enabling adaptation of a DUB high throughput (HTS) screen to identify PLpro inhibitors. Drug repurposing has been a major focus through the COVID-19 pandemic as it may provide a fast and efficient route for identifying clinic-ready, safe-in-human antivirals. We here report our effort to identify PLpro inhibitors by screening the ReFRAME library of 11,804 compounds, showing that none inhibit PLpro with any reasonable activity or specificity to justify further progression towards the clinic. We also report our latest efforts to improve piperidine-scaffold inhibitors, 5c and 3k, originally developed for SARS-CoV PLpro. We report molecular details of binding and selectivity, as well as in vitro absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) studies of this scaffold. A co-crystal structure of SARS-CoV-2 PLpro bound to inhibitor 3k guides medicinal chemistry efforts to improve binding and ADME characteristics. We arrive at compounds with improved and favorable solubility and stability characteristics that are tested for inhibiting viral replication. Whilst still requiring significant improvement, our optimized small molecule inhibitors of PLpro display decent antiviral activity in an in vitro SARS-CoV-2 infection model, justifying further optimization.

2.
Frontiers in chemistry ; 10, 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1812672

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated, emphasizing the need for additional antiviral treatment options to prevent hospitalization and death of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. The papain-like protease (PLpro) domain is part of the SARS-CoV-2 non-structural protein (nsp)-3, and represents an essential protease and validated drug target for preventing viral replication. PLpro moonlights as a deubiquitinating (DUB) and deISGylating enzyme, enabling adaptation of a DUB high throughput (HTS) screen to identify PLpro inhibitors. Drug repurposing has been a major focus through the COVID-19 pandemic as it may provide a fast and efficient route for identifying clinic-ready, safe-in-human antivirals. We here report our effort to identify PLpro inhibitors by screening the ReFRAME library of 11,804 compounds, showing that none inhibit PLpro with any reasonable activity or specificity to justify further progression towards the clinic. We also report our latest efforts to improve piperidine-scaffold inhibitors, 5c and 3k, originally developed for SARS-CoV PLpro. We report molecular details of binding and selectivity, as well as in vitro absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) studies of this scaffold. A co-crystal structure of SARS-CoV-2 PLpro bound to inhibitor 3k guides medicinal chemistry efforts to improve binding and ADME characteristics. We arrive at compounds with improved and favorable solubility and stability characteristics that are tested for inhibiting viral replication. Whilst still requiring significant improvement, our optimized small molecule inhibitors of PLpro display decent antiviral activity in an in vitro SARS-CoV-2 infection model, justifying further optimization.

3.
Biochem J ; 479(5): 609-628, 2022 03 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1730329

ABSTRACT

Two years after the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, our understanding of COVID-19 disease pathogenesis is still incomplete. Despite unprecedented global collaborative scientific efforts and rapid vaccine development, an uneven vaccine roll-out and the emergence of novel variants of concern such as omicron underscore the critical importance of identifying the mechanisms that contribute to this disease. Overt inflammation and cell death have been proposed to be central drivers of severe pathology in COVID-19 patients and their pathways and molecular components therefore present promising targets for host-directed therapeutics. In our review, we summarize the current knowledge on the role and impact of diverse programmed cell death (PCD) pathways on COVID-19 disease. We dissect the complex connection of cell death and inflammatory signaling at the cellular and molecular level and identify a number of critical questions that remain to be addressed. We provide rationale for targeting of cell death as potential COVID-19 treatment and provide an overview of current therapeutics that could potentially enter clinical trials in the near future.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/etiology , COVID-19/pathology , Antiviral Agents , Apoptosis/drug effects , Apoptosis/physiology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Humans , Inflammasomes/physiology , Interferons/metabolism , Necroptosis/physiology , Neutrophils/pathology , Neutrophils/virology , Pyroptosis/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity
4.
Immunity ; 55(3): 423-441.e9, 2022 03 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1693372

ABSTRACT

Cell death plays an important role during pathogen infections. Here, we report that interferon-γ (IFNγ) sensitizes macrophages to Toll-like receptor (TLR)-induced death that requires macrophage-intrinsic death ligands and caspase-8 enzymatic activity, which trigger the mitochondrial apoptotic effectors, BAX and BAK. The pro-apoptotic caspase-8 substrate BID was dispensable for BAX and BAK activation. Instead, caspase-8 reduced pro-survival BCL-2 transcription and increased inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), thus facilitating BAX and BAK signaling. IFNγ-primed, TLR-induced macrophage killing required iNOS, which licensed apoptotic caspase-8 activity and reduced the BAX and BAK inhibitors, A1 and MCL-1. The deletion of iNOS or caspase-8 limited SARS-CoV-2-induced disease in mice, while caspase-8 caused lethality independent of iNOS in a model of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. These findings reveal that iNOS selectively licenses programmed cell death, which may explain how nitric oxide impacts disease severity in SARS-CoV-2 infection and other iNOS-associated inflammatory conditions.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Caspase 8/metabolism , Interferon-gamma/metabolism , Lymphohistiocytosis, Hemophagocytic/immunology , Macrophages/immunology , Mitochondria/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Animals , Caspase 8/genetics , Cells, Cultured , Cytotoxicity, Immunologic , Humans , Interferon-gamma/genetics , Macrophage Activation , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Mice, Knockout , Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II/metabolism , Pathogen-Associated Molecular Pattern Molecules/immunology , Signal Transduction , bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein/genetics , bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein/metabolism , bcl-2-Associated X Protein/genetics , bcl-2-Associated X Protein/metabolism
5.
Cell Rep ; 37(2): 109822, 2021 10 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1433046

ABSTRACT

Potent neutralizing monoclonal antibodies are one of the few agents currently available to treat COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) that carry multiple mutations in the viral spike protein can exhibit neutralization resistance, potentially affecting the effectiveness of some antibody-based therapeutics. Here, the generation of a diverse panel of 91 human, neutralizing monoclonal antibodies provides an in-depth structural and phenotypic definition of receptor binding domain (RBD) antigenic sites on the viral spike. These RBD antibodies ameliorate SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice and hamster models in a dose-dependent manner and in proportion to in vitro, neutralizing potency. Assessing the effect of mutations in the spike protein on antibody recognition and neutralization highlights both potent single antibodies and stereotypic classes of antibodies that are unaffected by currently circulating VOCs, such as B.1.351 and P.1. These neutralizing monoclonal antibodies and others that bind analogous epitopes represent potentially useful future anti-SARS-CoV-2 therapeutics.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/ultrastructure , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Neutralizing/ultrastructure , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Cricetinae , Cryoelectron Microscopy/methods , Epitopes/immunology , Female , Humans , Male , Mice , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Middle Aged , Neutralization Tests , Protein Binding/physiology , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
6.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(19)2021 05 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1203483

ABSTRACT

Neutralizing antibodies are important for immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and as therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Here, we identified high-affinity nanobodies from alpacas immunized with coronavirus spike and receptor-binding domains (RBD) that disrupted RBD engagement with the human receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and potently neutralized SARS-CoV-2. Epitope mapping, X-ray crystallography, and cryo-electron microscopy revealed two distinct antigenic sites and showed two neutralizing nanobodies from different epitope classes bound simultaneously to the spike trimer. Nanobody-Fc fusions of the four most potent nanobodies blocked ACE2 engagement with RBD variants present in human populations and potently neutralized both wild-type SARS-CoV-2 and the N501Y D614G variant at concentrations as low as 0.1 nM. Prophylactic administration of either single nanobody-Fc or as mixtures reduced viral loads by up to 104-fold in mice infected with the N501Y D614G SARS-CoV-2 virus. These results suggest a role for nanobody-Fc fusions as prophylactic agents against SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Single-Domain Antibodies , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/immunology , Camelids, New World , Humans , Mice , Single-Domain Antibodies/immunology , Single-Domain Antibodies/pharmacology
7.
EMBO J ; 39(18): e106275, 2020 09 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-730426

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus encodes an essential papain-like protease domain as part of its non-structural protein (nsp)-3, namely SARS2 PLpro, that cleaves the viral polyprotein, but also removes ubiquitin-like ISG15 protein modifications as well as, with lower activity, Lys48-linked polyubiquitin. Structures of PLpro bound to ubiquitin and ISG15 reveal that the S1 ubiquitin-binding site is responsible for high ISG15 activity, while the S2 binding site provides Lys48 chain specificity and cleavage efficiency. To identify PLpro inhibitors in a repurposing approach, screening of 3,727 unique approved drugs and clinical compounds against SARS2 PLpro identified no compounds that inhibited PLpro consistently or that could be validated in counterscreens. More promisingly, non-covalent small molecule SARS PLpro inhibitors also target SARS2 PLpro, prevent self-processing of nsp3 in cells and display high potency and excellent antiviral activity in a SARS-CoV-2 infection model.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/antagonists & inhibitors , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Ubiquitin/metabolism , Animals , Binding Sites , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/chemistry , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/genetics , Crystallography, X-Ray , Cytokines/genetics , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical/methods , Drug Repositioning , Fluorescence Polarization , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Kinetics , Models, Molecular , Protease Inhibitors/pharmacology , Protein Conformation , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Ubiquitins/genetics , Vero Cells
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