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Int J Mol Sci ; 23(10)2022 May 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1862813


Previous studies suggest that berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid, has antiviral potential and is a possible therapeutic candidate against SARS-CoV-2. The molecular underpinnings of its action are still unknown. Potential targets include quadruplexes (G4Q) in the viral genome as they play a key role in modulating the biological activity of viruses. While several DNA-G4Q structures and their binding properties have been elucidated, RNA-G4Qs such as RG-1 of the N-gene of SARS-CoV-2 are less explored. Using biophysical techniques, the berberine binding thermodynamics and the associated conformational and hydration changes of RG-1 could be characterized and compared with human telomeric DNA-G4Q 22AG. Berberine can interact with both quadruplexes. Substantial changes were observed in the interaction of berberine with 22AG and RG-1, which adopt different topologies that can also change upon ligand binding. The strength of interaction and the thermodynamic signatures were found to dependent not only on the initial conformation of the quadruplex, but also on the type of salt present in solution. Since berberine has shown promise as a G-quadruplex stabilizer that can modulate viral gene expression, this study may also contribute to the development of optimized ligands that can discriminate between binding to DNA and RNA G-quadruplexes.

Berberine , COVID-19 , Berberine/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , DNA/chemistry , Humans , RNA/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2
Chemistry ; 28(9): e202104182, 2022 Feb 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1750334


Given the emergence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), which particularly threatens older people with comorbidities such as diabetes mellitus and dementia, understanding the relationship between Covid-19 and other diseases is an important factor for treatment. Possible targets for medical intervention include G-quadruplexes (G4Qs) and their protein interaction partners. We investigated the stability and conformational space of the RG-1 RNA-G-quadruplex of the SARS-CoV-2 N-gene in the presence of salts, cosolutes, crowders and intrinsically disordered peptides, focusing on α-Synuclein and the human islet amyloid polypeptide, which are involved in Parkinson's disease (PD) and type-II diabetes mellitus (T2DM), respectively. We found that the conformational dynamics of the RG-1 G4Q is strongly affected by the various solution conditions. Further, the amyloidogenic peptides were found to strongly modulate the conformational equilibrium of the RG-1. Considerable changes are observed with respect to their interaction with human telomeric G4Qs, which adopt different topologies. These results may therefore shed more light on the relationship between PD as well as T2DM and the SARS-CoV-2 disease and their molecular underpinnings. Since dysregulation of G4Q formation by rationally designed targeting compounds affects the control of cellular processes, this study should contribute to the development of specific ligands for intervention.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Aged , Humans , Islet Amyloid Polypeptide/metabolism , Peptides , RNA, Viral , alpha-Synuclein/chemistry
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