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Int J Mol Sci ; 22(23)2021 Nov 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1542584


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a major pathogenic herpesvirus that is prevalent worldwide and it is associated with a variety of clinical symptoms. Current antiviral therapy options do not fully satisfy the medical needs; thus, improved drug classes and drug-targeting strategies are required. In particular, host-directed antivirals, including pharmaceutical kinase inhibitors, might help improve the drug qualities. Here, we focused on utilizing PROteolysis TArgeting Chimeras (PROTACs), i.e., hetero-bifunctional molecules containing two elements, namely a target-binding molecule and a proteolysis-inducing element. Specifically, a PROTAC that was based on a cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor, i.e., CDK9-directed PROTAC THAL-SNS032, was analyzed and proved to possess strong anti-HCMV AD169-GFP activity, with values of EC50 of 0.030 µM and CC50 of 0.175 µM (SI of 5.8). Comparing the effect of THAL-SNS032 with its non-PROTAC counterpart SNS032, data indicated a 3.7-fold stronger anti-HCMV efficacy. This antiviral activity, as illustrated for further clinically relevant strains of human and murine CMVs, coincided with the mid-nanomolar concentration range necessary for a drug-induced degradation of the primary (CDK9) and secondary targets (CDK1, CDK2, CDK7). In addition, further antiviral activities were demonstrated, such as the inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 replication, whereas other investigated human viruses (i.e., varicella zoster virus, adenovirus type 2, and Zika virus) were found insensitive. Combined, the antiviral quality of this approach is seen in its (i) mechanistic uniqueness; (ii) future options of combinatorial drug treatment; (iii) potential broad-spectrum activity; and (iv) applicability in clinically relevant antiviral models. These novel data are discussed in light of the current achievements of anti-HCMV drug development.

Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Cytomegalovirus/drug effects , Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins/pharmacology , Adenoviridae/drug effects , Animals , COVID-19/drug therapy , Cell Line , Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 9 , Drug Delivery Systems , Herpesvirus 3, Human/drug effects , Humans , Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins/chemistry , Mice , Protein Kinase Inhibitors/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Virus Replication/drug effects , Zika Virus/drug effects