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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
Pathogens ; 10(9)2021 Aug 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1374480


Currently, human infections with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are accelerating the ongoing spread of the pandemic. Several innovative types of vaccines have already been developed, whereas effective options of antiviral treatments still await a scientific implementation. The development of novel anti-SARS-CoV-2 drug candidates demands skillful strategies and analysis systems. Promising results have been achieved with first generation direct-acting antivirals targeting the viral polymerase RdRp or the protease 3CLpro. Such recently approved or investigational drugs like remdesivir and GC376 represent a basis for further development and optimization. Here, we establish a multi-readout assay (MRA) system that enables the antiviral assessment and mechanistic characterization of novel test compounds, drug repurposing and combination treatments. Our SARS-CoV-2-specific MRA combines the quantitative measurement of several parameters of virus infection, such as the intracellular production of proteins and genomes, enzymatic activities and virion release, as well as the use of reporter systems. In this regard, the antiviral efficacy of remdesivir and GC376 has been investigated in human Caco-2 cells. The readouts included the use of spike- and double-strand RNA-specific monoclonal antibodies for in-cell fluorescence imaging, a newly generated recombinant SARS-CoV-2 reporter virus d6YFP, the novel 3CLpro-based FRET CFP::YFP and the previously reported FlipGFP reporter assays, as well as viral genome-specific RT-qPCR. The data produced by our MRA confirm the high antiviral potency of these two drugs in vitro. Combined, this MRA approach may be applied for broader analyses of SARS-CoV-2-specific antivirals, including compound screenings and the characterization of selected drug candidates.