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J Med Chem ; 65(4): 2956-2970, 2022 02 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1500413


Cathepsin L is a key host cysteine protease utilized by coronaviruses for cell entry and is a promising drug target for novel antivirals against SARS-CoV-2. The marine natural product gallinamide A and several synthetic analogues were identified as potent inhibitors of cathepsin L with IC50 values in the picomolar range. Lead molecules possessed selectivity over other cathepsins and alternative host proteases involved in viral entry. Gallinamide A directly interacted with cathepsin L in cells and, together with two lead analogues, potently inhibited SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro, with EC50 values in the nanomolar range. Reduced antiviral activity was observed in cells overexpressing transmembrane protease, serine 2 (TMPRSS2); however, a synergistic improvement in antiviral activity was achieved when combined with a TMPRSS2 inhibitor. These data highlight the potential of cathepsin L as a COVID-19 drug target as well as the likely need to inhibit multiple routes of viral entry to achieve efficacy.

Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Biological Products/pharmacology , Cathepsin L/antagonists & inhibitors , Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , A549 Cells , Animals , Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides/chemical synthesis , Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/chemical synthesis , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Biological Products/chemical synthesis , Biological Products/chemistry , COVID-19/metabolism , Cathepsin L/metabolism , Chlorocebus aethiops , Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors/chemical synthesis , Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors/chemistry , Dose-Response Relationship, Drug , Humans , Microbial Sensitivity Tests , Molecular Conformation , Proteomics , Structure-Activity Relationship , Vero Cells
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(43)2021 10 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1493345


The host cell serine protease TMPRSS2 is an attractive therapeutic target for COVID-19 drug discovery. This protease activates the Spike protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and of other coronaviruses and is essential for viral spread in the lung. Utilizing rational structure-based drug design (SBDD) coupled to substrate specificity screening of TMPRSS2, we have discovered covalent small-molecule ketobenzothiazole (kbt) TMPRSS2 inhibitors which are structurally distinct from and have significantly improved activity over the existing known inhibitors Camostat and Nafamostat. Lead compound MM3122 (4) has an IC50 (half-maximal inhibitory concentration) of 340 pM against recombinant full-length TMPRSS2 protein, an EC50 (half-maximal effective concentration) of 430 pM in blocking host cell entry into Calu-3 human lung epithelial cells of a newly developed VSV-SARS-CoV-2 chimeric virus, and an EC50 of 74 nM in inhibiting cytopathic effects induced by SARS-CoV-2 virus in Calu-3 cells. Further, MM3122 blocks Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cell entry with an EC50 of 870 pM. MM3122 has excellent metabolic stability, safety, and pharmacokinetics in mice, with a half-life of 8.6 h in plasma and 7.5 h in lung tissue, making it suitable for in vivo efficacy evaluation and a promising drug candidate for COVID-19 treatment.

Benzothiazoles/pharmacology , Oligopeptides/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Animals , Benzamidines/chemistry , Benzothiazoles/pharmacokinetics , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/virology , Cell Line , Drug Design , Epithelial Cells/drug effects , Epithelial Cells/virology , Esters/chemistry , Guanidines/chemistry , Humans , Lung/drug effects , Lung/virology , Mice , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/drug effects , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/pathogenicity , Oligopeptides/pharmacokinetics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Serine Endopeptidases/drug effects , Serine Endopeptidases/ultrastructure , Small Molecule Libraries/pharmacology , Substrate Specificity/drug effects , Virus Internalization/drug effects