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Int J Mol Sci ; 24(7)2023 Mar 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2301381


The main protease (Mpro or 3CLpro) is an enzyme that is evolutionarily conserved among different genera of coronaviruses. As it is essential for processing and maturing viral polyproteins, Mpro has been identified as a promising target for the development of broad-spectrum drugs against coronaviruses. Like SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, the mature and active form of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro is a dimer composed of identical subunits, each with a single active site. Individual monomers, however, have very low or no catalytic activity. As such, inhibition of Mpro can be achieved by molecules that target the substrate binding pocket to block catalytic activity or target the dimerization process. In this study, we investigated GC376, a transition-state analog inhibitor of the main protease of feline infectious peritonitis coronavirus, and Nirmatrelvir (NMV), an oral, bioavailable SARS-CoV-2 Mpro inhibitor with pan-human coronavirus antiviral activity. Our results show that both GC376 and NMV are capable of strongly binding to SARS-CoV-2 Mpro and altering the monomer-dimer equilibrium by stabilizing the dimeric state. This behavior is proposed to be related to a structured hydrogen-bond network established at the Mpro active site, where hydrogen bonds between Ser1' and Glu166/Phe140 are formed in addition to those achieved by the latter residues with GC376 or NMV.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Cysteine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Protease Inhibitors/pharmacology , Protease Inhibitors/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Molecular Docking Simulation
Microorganisms ; 10(7)2022 Jul 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1957393


INTRODUCTION: The development of effective vaccines has partially mitigated the trend of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic; however, the need for orally administered antiviral drugs persists. This study aims to investigate the activity of molnupiravir in combination with nirmatrelvir or GC376 on SARS-CoV-2 to verify the synergistic effect. METHODS: The SARS-CoV-2 strains 20A.EU, BA.1 and BA.2 were used to infect Vero E6 in presence of antiviral compounds alone or in combinations using five two-fold serial dilution of compound concentrations ≤EC90. After 48 and 72 h post-infection, viability was performed using MTT reduction assay. Supernatants were collected for plaque-assay titration. All experiments were performed in triplicate, each being repeated at least three times. The synergistic score was calculated using Synergy Finder version 2. RESULTS: All compounds reached micromolar EC90. Molnupiravir and GC376 showed a synergistic activity at 48 h with an HSA score of 19.33 (p < 0.0001) and an additive activity at 72 h with an HSA score of 8.61 (p < 0.0001). Molnupiravir and nirmatrelvir showed a synergistic activity both at 48 h and 72 h with an HSA score of 14.2 (p = 0.01) and 13.08 (p < 0.0001), respectively. CONCLUSION: Molnupiravir associated with one of the two protease-inhibitors nirmatrelvir and GC376 showed good additive-synergic activity in vitro.