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1.
Biochem J ; 478(13): 2481-2497, 2021 07 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1289949

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented itself as one of the most critical public health challenges of the century, with SARS-CoV-2 being the third member of the Coronaviridae family to cause a fatal disease in humans. There is currently only one antiviral compound, remdesivir, that can be used for the treatment of COVID-19. To identify additional potential therapeutics, we investigated the enzymatic proteins encoded in the SARS-CoV-2 genome. In this study, we focussed on the viral RNA cap methyltransferases, which play key roles in enabling viral protein translation and facilitating viral escape from the immune system. We expressed and purified both the guanine-N7 methyltransferase nsp14, and the nsp16 2'-O-methyltransferase with its activating cofactor, nsp10. We performed an in vitro high-throughput screen for inhibitors of nsp14 using a custom compound library of over 5000 pharmaceutical compounds that have previously been characterised in either clinical or basic research. We identified four compounds as potential inhibitors of nsp14, all of which also showed antiviral capacity in a cell-based model of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Three of the four compounds also exhibited synergistic effects on viral replication with remdesivir.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Exoribonucleases/antagonists & inhibitors , Methyltransferases/antagonists & inhibitors , RNA Caps/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , Small Molecule Libraries/pharmacology , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/pharmacology , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/pharmacology , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Chlorobenzenes/pharmacology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Enzyme Assays , Exoribonucleases/genetics , Exoribonucleases/isolation & purification , Exoribonucleases/metabolism , Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer , High-Throughput Screening Assays , Indazoles/pharmacology , Indenes/pharmacology , Indoles/pharmacology , Methyltransferases/genetics , Methyltransferases/isolation & purification , Methyltransferases/metabolism , Nitriles/pharmacology , Phenothiazines/pharmacology , Purines/pharmacology , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Small Molecule Libraries/chemistry , Substrate Specificity , Trifluperidol/pharmacology , Vero Cells , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/genetics , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/isolation & purification , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism , Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins/genetics , Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins/isolation & purification , Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins/metabolism
2.
Biochem J ; 478(13): 2499-2515, 2021 07 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1291175

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), spread around the world with unprecedented health and socio-economic effects for the global population. While different vaccines are now being made available, very few antiviral drugs have been approved. The main viral protease (nsp5) of SARS-CoV-2 provides an excellent target for antivirals, due to its essential and conserved function in the viral replication cycle. We have expressed, purified and developed assays for nsp5 protease activity. We screened the nsp5 protease against a custom chemical library of over 5000 characterised pharmaceuticals. We identified calpain inhibitor I and three different peptidyl fluoromethylketones (FMK) as inhibitors of nsp5 activity in vitro, with IC50 values in the low micromolar range. By altering the sequence of our peptidomimetic FMK inhibitors to better mimic the substrate sequence of nsp5, we generated an inhibitor with a subnanomolar IC50. Calpain inhibitor I inhibited viral infection in monkey-derived Vero E6 cells, with an EC50 in the low micromolar range. The most potent and commercially available peptidyl-FMK compound inhibited viral growth in Vero E6 cells to some extent, while our custom peptidyl FMK inhibitor offered a marked antiviral improvement.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/antagonists & inhibitors , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , Small Molecule Libraries/pharmacology , Amino Acid Chloromethyl Ketones/pharmacology , Animals , Azoles/pharmacology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/genetics , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/isolation & purification , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/metabolism , Enzyme Assays , Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer , High-Throughput Screening Assays , Isoindoles , Leupeptins/pharmacology , Organoselenium Compounds/pharmacology , Peptidomimetics , RNA-Binding Proteins/metabolism , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Small Molecule Libraries/chemistry , Vero Cells , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism
3.
Biochem J ; 478(13): 2517-2531, 2021 07 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1290988

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as the biggest life-threatening disease of this century. Whilst vaccination should provide a long-term solution, this is pitted against the constant threat of mutations in the virus rendering the current vaccines less effective. Consequently, small molecule antiviral agents would be extremely useful to complement the vaccination program. The causative agent of COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which encodes at least nine enzymatic activities that all have drug targeting potential. The papain-like protease (PLpro) contained in the nsp3 protein generates viral non-structural proteins from a polyprotein precursor, and cleaves ubiquitin and ISG protein conjugates. Here we describe the expression and purification of PLpro. We developed a protease assay that was used to screen a custom compound library from which we identified dihydrotanshinone I and Ro 08-2750 as compounds that inhibit PLpro in protease and isopeptidase assays and also inhibit viral replication in cell culture-based assays.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/antagonists & inhibitors , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , Small Molecule Libraries/pharmacology , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/pharmacology , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/pharmacology , Aniline Compounds/pharmacology , Animals , Benzamides/pharmacology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/genetics , Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/isolation & purification , Coronavirus Papain-Like Proteases/metabolism , Drug Synergism , Enzyme Assays , Flavins/pharmacology , Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer , Furans/pharmacology , High-Throughput Screening Assays , Inhibitory Concentration 50 , Naphthalenes/pharmacology , Phenanthrenes/pharmacology , Quinones/pharmacology , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , Small Molecule Libraries/chemistry , Vero Cells , Virus Replication/drug effects
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