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JACS Au ; 2(9): 2187-2202, 2022 Sep 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2050266


The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 presents a global health emergency. Therapeutic options against SARS-CoV-2 are still very limited but urgently required. Molecular tweezers are supramolecular agents that destabilize the envelope of viruses resulting in a loss of viral infectivity. Here, we show that first-generation tweezers, CLR01 and CLR05, disrupt the SARS-CoV-2 envelope and abrogate viral infectivity. To increase the antiviral activity, a series of 34 advanced molecular tweezers were synthesized by insertion of aliphatic or aromatic ester groups on the phosphate moieties of the parent molecule CLR01. A structure-activity relationship study enabled the identification of tweezers with a markedly enhanced ability to destroy lipid bilayers and to suppress SARS-CoV-2 infection. Selected tweezer derivatives retain activity in airway mucus and inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 wildtype and variants of concern as well as respiratory syncytial, influenza, and measles viruses. Moreover, inhibitory activity of advanced tweezers against respiratory syncytial virus and SARS-CoV-2 was confirmed in mice. Thus, potentiated tweezers are broad-spectrum antiviral agents with great prospects for clinical development to combat highly pathogenic viruses.

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