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J Inorg Biochem ; 231: 111777, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1873158


The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic is currently the major challenge to global public health. Two proteases, papain-like protease (PLpro) and the 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro or Mpro), are indispensable for SARS-CoV-2 replication, making them attractive targets for antiviral therapy development. Here we screened a panel of essential metal ions using a proteolytic assay and identified that zinc gluconate, a widely-used zinc supplement, strongly inhibited the proteolytic activities of the two proteases in vitro. Biochemical and crystallographic data reveal that zinc gluconate exhibited the inhibitory function via binding to the protease catalytic site residues. We further show that treatment of zinc gluconate in combination with a small molecule ionophore hinokitiol, could lead to elevated intracellular Zn2+ level and thereby significantly impaired the two protease activities in cellulo. Particularly, this approach could also be applied to rescue SARS-CoV-2 infected mammalian cells, indicative of potential application to combat coronavirus infections. Our studies provide the direct experimental evidence that elevated intracellular zinc concentration directly inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication and suggest the potential benefits to use the zinc supplements for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatment.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Gluconates , Mammals/metabolism , Monoterpenes , Peptide Hydrolases/metabolism , Tropolone/analogs & derivatives , Zinc/pharmacology
Chem Sci ; 12(42): 14098-14102, 2021 Nov 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1472230


The SARS-CoV-2 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro or Mpro) is a key cysteine protease for viral replication and transcription, making it an attractive target for antiviral therapies to combat the COVID-19 disease. Here, we demonstrate that bismuth drug colloidal bismuth subcitrate (CBS) is a potent inhibitor for 3CLpro in vitro and in cellulo. Rather than targeting the cysteine residue at the catalytic site, CBS binds to an allosteric site and results in dissociation of the 3CLpro dimer and proteolytic dysfunction. Our work provides direct evidence that CBS is an allosteric inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 3CLpro.