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1.
ACS Pharmacol Transl Sci ; 5(4): 255-265, 2022 Apr 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1795846

ABSTRACT

Inhibition of the SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro) is a major focus of drug discovery efforts against COVID-19. Here we report a hit expansion of non-covalent inhibitors of Mpro. Starting from a recently discovered scaffold (The COVID Moonshot Consortium. Open Science Discovery of Oral Non-Covalent SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease Inhibitor Therapeutics. bioRxiv 2020.10.29.339317) represented by an isoquinoline series, we searched a database of over a billion compounds using a cheminformatics molecular fingerprinting approach. We identified and tested 48 compounds in enzyme inhibition assays, of which 21 exhibited inhibitory activity above 50% at 20 µM. Among these, four compounds with IC50 values around 1 µM were found. Interestingly, despite the large search space, the isoquinolone motif was conserved in each of these four strongest binders. Room-temperature X-ray structures of co-crystallized protein-inhibitor complexes were determined up to 1.9 Å resolution for two of these compounds as well as one of the stronger inhibitors in the original isoquinoline series, revealing essential interactions with the binding site and water molecules. Molecular dynamics simulations and quantum chemical calculations further elucidate the binding interactions as well as electrostatic effects on ligand binding. The results help explain the strength of this new non-covalent scaffold for Mpro inhibition and inform lead optimization efforts for this series, while demonstrating the effectiveness of a high-throughput computational approach to expanding a pharmacophore library.

2.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-292953

ABSTRACT

In addition to its essential role in viral polyprotein processing, the SARS-CoV-2 3C-like (3CLpro) protease can cleave human immune signaling proteins, like NF-κB Essential Modulator (NEMO) and deregulate the host immune response. Here, in vitro assays show that SARS-CoV-2 3CLpro cleaves NEMO with fine-tuned efficiency. Analysis of the 2.14 Å resolution crystal structure of 3CLpro C145S bound to NEMO 226-235 reveals subsites that tolerate a range of viral and host substrates through main chain hydrogen bonds while also enforcing specificity using side chain hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic contacts. Machine learning- and physics-based computational methods predict that variation in key binding residues of 3CLpro-NEMO helps explain the high fitness of SARS-CoV-2 in humans. We posit that cleavage of NEMO is an important piece of information to be accounted for in the pathology of COVID-19.

3.
J Chem Inf Model ; 62(1): 116-128, 2022 01 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1521685

ABSTRACT

Despite the recent availability of vaccines against the acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the search for inhibitory therapeutic agents has assumed importance especially in the context of emerging new viral variants. In this paper, we describe the discovery of a novel noncovalent small-molecule inhibitor, MCULE-5948770040, that binds to and inhibits the SARS-Cov-2 main protease (Mpro) by employing a scalable high-throughput virtual screening (HTVS) framework and a targeted compound library of over 6.5 million molecules that could be readily ordered and purchased. Our HTVS framework leverages the U.S. supercomputing infrastructure achieving nearly 91% resource utilization and nearly 126 million docking calculations per hour. Downstream biochemical assays validate this Mpro inhibitor with an inhibition constant (Ki) of 2.9 µM (95% CI 2.2, 4.0). Furthermore, using room-temperature X-ray crystallography, we show that MCULE-5948770040 binds to a cleft in the primary binding site of Mpro forming stable hydrogen bond and hydrophobic interactions. We then used multiple µs-time scale molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and machine learning (ML) techniques to elucidate how the bound ligand alters the conformational states accessed by Mpro, involving motions both proximal and distal to the binding site. Together, our results demonstrate how MCULE-5948770040 inhibits Mpro and offers a springboard for further therapeutic design.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Protease Inhibitors , Antiviral Agents , Coronavirus 3C Proteases , Humans , Molecular Docking Simulation , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Orotic Acid/analogs & derivatives , Piperazines , SARS-CoV-2
4.
J Med Chem ; 64(23): 17366-17383, 2021 12 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1493002

ABSTRACT

Creating small-molecule antivirals specific for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) proteins is crucial to battle coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro) is an established drug target for the design of protease inhibitors. We performed a structure-activity relationship (SAR) study of noncovalent compounds that bind in the enzyme's substrate-binding subsites S1 and S2, revealing structural, electronic, and electrostatic determinants of these sites. The study was guided by the X-ray/neutron structure of Mpro complexed with Mcule-5948770040 (compound 1), in which protonation states were directly visualized. Virtual reality-assisted structure analysis and small-molecule building were employed to generate analogues of 1. In vitro enzyme inhibition assays and room-temperature X-ray structures demonstrated the effect of chemical modifications on Mpro inhibition, showing that (1) maintaining correct geometry of an inhibitor's P1 group is essential to preserve the hydrogen bond with the protonated His163; (2) a positively charged linker is preferred; and (3) subsite S2 prefers nonbulky modestly electronegative groups.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus 3C Proteases , Protease Inhibitors , Orotic Acid/analogs & derivatives , Piperazines , Protein Conformation , Static Electricity
5.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-291462

ABSTRACT

Direct-acting antivirals for the treatment of COVID-19, which is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), are needed to complement vaccination efforts. The papain-like protease (PLpro) of SARS-CoV-2 is essential for viral proliferation. In addition, PLpro dysregulates the host immune response by cleaving ubiquitin and interferon-stimulated gene 15 protein (ISG15) from host proteins. As a result, PLpro is a promising target for inhibition by small-molecule therapeutics. Here we have designed a series of covalent inhibitors by introducing a peptidomimetic linker and reactive electrophilic “warheads” onto analogs of the noncovalent PLpro inhibitor GRL0617. We show that the most promising PLpro inhibitor is potent and selective, with activity in cell-based antiviral assays rivaling that of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibitor remdesivir. An X-ray crystal structure of the most promising lead compound bound covalently to PLpro establishes the molecular basis for protease inhibition and selectivity against structurally similar human deubiquitinases. These findings present an opportunity for further development of potent and selective covalent PLpro inhibitors.

6.
Structure ; 28(12): 1313-1320.e3, 2020 12 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-997553

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 requires rapid development of specific therapeutics and vaccines. The main protease of SARS-CoV-2, 3CL Mpro, is an established drug target for the design of inhibitors to stop the virus replication. Repurposing existing clinical drugs can offer a faster route to treatments. Here, we report on the binding mode and inhibition properties of several inhibitors using room temperature X-ray crystallography and in vitro enzyme kinetics. The enzyme active-site cavity reveals a high degree of malleability, allowing aldehyde leupeptin and hepatitis C clinical protease inhibitors (telaprevir, narlaprevir, and boceprevir) to bind and inhibit SARS-CoV-2 3CL Mpro. Narlaprevir, boceprevir, and telaprevir are low-micromolar inhibitors, whereas the binding affinity of leupeptin is substantially weaker. Repurposing hepatitis C clinical drugs as COVID-19 treatments may be a useful option to pursue. The observed malleability of the enzyme active-site cavity should be considered for the successful design of specific protease inhibitors.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Betacoronavirus/metabolism , Catalytic Domain , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Crystallography, X-Ray , Cysteine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Humans , Pandemics , Protease Inhibitors/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2 , Temperature , Viral Nonstructural Proteins
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