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1.
Front Chem ; 10: 867928, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2029956

ABSTRACT

Cysteine proteases comprise an important class of drug targets, especially for infectious diseases such as Chagas disease (cruzain) and COVID-19 (3CL protease, cathepsin L). Peptide aldehydes have proven to be potent inhibitors for all of these proteases. However, the intrinsic, high electrophilicity of the aldehyde group is associated with safety concerns and metabolic instability, limiting the use of aldehyde inhibitors as drugs. We have developed a novel class of compounds, self-masked aldehyde inhibitors (SMAIs) which are based on the dipeptide aldehyde inhibitor (Cbz-Phe-Phe-CHO, 1), for which the P1 Phe group contains a 1'-hydroxy group, effectively, an o-tyrosinyl aldehyde (Cbz-Phe-o-Tyr-CHO, 2; (Li et al. (2021) J. Med. Chem. 64, 11,267-11,287)). Compound 2 and other SMAIs exist in aqueous mixtures as stable δ-lactols, and apparent catalysis by the cysteine protease cruzain, the major cysteine protease of Trypanosoma cruzi, results in the opening of the lactol ring to afford the aldehydes which then form reversible thiohemiacetals with the enzyme. These SMAIs are also potent, time-dependent inhibitors of human cathepsin L (K i = 11-60 nM), an enzyme which shares 36% amino acid identity with cruzain. As inactivators of cathepsin L have recently been shown to be potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents in infected mammalian cells (Mellott et al. (2021) ACS Chem. Biol. 16, 642-650), we evaluated SMAIs in VeroE6 and A549/ACE2 cells infected with SARS-CoV-2. These SMAIs demonstrated potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity with values of EC50 = 2-8 µM. We also synthesized pro-drug forms of the SMAIs in which the hydroxyl groups of the lactols were O-acylated. Such pro-drug SMAIs resulted in significantly enhanced anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity (EC50 = 0.3-0.6 µM), demonstrating that the O-acylated-SMAIs afforded a level of stability within infected cells, and are likely converted to SMAIs by the action of cellular esterases. Lastly, we prepared and characterized an SMAI in which the sidechain adjacent to the terminal aldehyde is a 2-pyridonyl-alanine group, a mimic of both phenylalanine and glutamine. This compound (9) inhibited both cathepsin L and 3CL protease at low nanomolar concentrations, and also exerted anti-CoV-2 activity in an infected human cell line.

2.
Frontiers in chemistry ; 10, 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1940350

ABSTRACT

Cysteine proteases comprise an important class of drug targets, especially for infectious diseases such as Chagas disease (cruzain) and COVID-19 (3CL protease, cathepsin L). Peptide aldehydes have proven to be potent inhibitors for all of these proteases. However, the intrinsic, high electrophilicity of the aldehyde group is associated with safety concerns and metabolic instability, limiting the use of aldehyde inhibitors as drugs. We have developed a novel class of compounds, self-masked aldehyde inhibitors (SMAIs) which are based on the dipeptide aldehyde inhibitor (Cbz-Phe-Phe-CHO, 1), for which the P1 Phe group contains a 1′-hydroxy group, effectively, an o-tyrosinyl aldehyde (Cbz-Phe-o-Tyr-CHO, 2;(Li et al. (2021) J. Med. Chem. 64, 11,267–11,287)). Compound 2 and other SMAIs exist in aqueous mixtures as stable δ-lactols, and apparent catalysis by the cysteine protease cruzain, the major cysteine protease of Trypanosoma cruzi, results in the opening of the lactol ring to afford the aldehydes which then form reversible thiohemiacetals with the enzyme. These SMAIs are also potent, time-dependent inhibitors of human cathepsin L (Ki = 11–60 nM), an enzyme which shares 36% amino acid identity with cruzain. As inactivators of cathepsin L have recently been shown to be potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents in infected mammalian cells (Mellott et al. (2021) ACS Chem. Biol. 16, 642–650), we evaluated SMAIs in VeroE6 and A549/ACE2 cells infected with SARS-CoV-2. These SMAIs demonstrated potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity with values of EC50 = 2–8 μM. We also synthesized pro-drug forms of the SMAIs in which the hydroxyl groups of the lactols were O-acylated. Such pro-drug SMAIs resulted in significantly enhanced anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity (EC50 = 0.3–0.6 μM), demonstrating that the O-acylated-SMAIs afforded a level of stability within infected cells, and are likely converted to SMAIs by the action of cellular esterases. Lastly, we prepared and characterized an SMAI in which the sidechain adjacent to the terminal aldehyde is a 2-pyridonyl-alanine group, a mimic of both phenylalanine and glutamine. This compound (9) inhibited both cathepsin L and 3CL protease at low nanomolar concentrations, and also exerted anti-CoV-2 activity in an infected human cell line.

3.
ACS Chem Biol ; 16(4): 642-650, 2021 04 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1387141

ABSTRACT

Host-cell cysteine proteases play an essential role in the processing of the viral spike protein of SARS coronaviruses. K777, an irreversible, covalent inactivator of cysteine proteases that has recently completed phase 1 clinical trials, reduced SARS-CoV-2 viral infectivity in several host cells: Vero E6 (EC50< 74 nM), HeLa/ACE2 (4 nM), Caco-2 (EC90 = 4.3 µM), and A549/ACE2 (<80 nM). Infectivity of Calu-3 cells depended on the cell line assayed. If Calu-3/2B4 was used, EC50 was 7 nM, but in the ATCC Calu-3 cell line without ACE2 enrichment, EC50 was >10 µM. There was no toxicity to any of the host cell lines at 10-100 µM K777 concentration. Kinetic analysis confirmed that K777 was a potent inhibitor of human cathepsin L, whereas no inhibition of the SARS-CoV-2 cysteine proteases (papain-like and 3CL-like protease) was observed. Treatment of Vero E6 cells with a propargyl derivative of K777 as an activity-based probe identified human cathepsin B and cathepsin L as the intracellular targets of this molecule in both infected and uninfected Vero E6 cells. However, cleavage of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein was only carried out by cathepsin L. This cleavage was blocked by K777 and occurred in the S1 domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, a different site from that previously observed for the SARS-CoV-1 spike protein. These data support the hypothesis that the antiviral activity of K777 is mediated through inhibition of the activity of host cathepsin L and subsequent loss of cathepsin L-mediated viral spike protein processing.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors/pharmacology , Phenylalanine/pharmacology , Piperazines/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Tosyl Compounds/pharmacology , Animals , Cathepsin L/antagonists & inhibitors , Cathepsin L/metabolism , Cell Line, Tumor , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Microbial Sensitivity Tests , Protein Domains , Proteolysis , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Vero Cells , Virus Internalization/drug effects
4.
Chem Commun (Camb) ; 57(67): 8352-8355, 2021 Aug 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1337131

ABSTRACT

By repurposing DNICs designed for other medicinal purposes, the possibility of protease inhibition was investigated in silico using AutoDock 4.2.6 (AD4) and in vitro via a FRET protease assay. AD4 was validated as a predictive computational tool for coordinatively unsaturated DNIC binding using the only known crystal structure of a protein-bound DNIC, PDB- (calculation RMSD = 1.77). From the in silico data the dimeric DNICs TGTA-RRE, [(µ-S-TGTA)Fe(NO)2]2 (TGTA = 1-thio-ß-d-glucose tetraacetate) and TG-RRE, [(µ-S-TG)Fe(NO)2]2 (TG = 1-thio-ß-d-glucose) were identified as promising leads for inhibition via coordinative inhibition at Cys-145 of the SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease (SC2Mpro). In vitro studies indicate inhibition of protease activity upon DNIC treatment, with an IC50 of 38 ± 2 µM for TGTA-RRE and 33 ± 2 µM for TG-RRE. This study presents a simple computational method for predicting DNIC-protein interactions; the in vitro study is consistent with in silico leads.


Subject(s)
Enzyme Inhibitors/pharmacology , Iron/pharmacology , Nitrogen Oxides/pharmacology , Peptide Hydrolases/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Dose-Response Relationship, Drug , Enzyme Inhibitors/chemistry , Humans , Iron/chemistry , Models, Molecular , Molecular Structure , Nitrogen Oxides/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology
5.
J Med Chem ; 64(15): 11267-11287, 2021 08 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1319012

ABSTRACT

Cysteine proteases comprise an important class of drug targets, especially for infectious diseases such as Chagas disease (cruzain) and COVID-19 (3CL protease, cathepsin L). Peptide aldehydes have proven to be potent inhibitors for all of these proteases. However, the intrinsic, high electrophilicity of the aldehyde group is associated with safety concerns and metabolic instability, limiting the use of aldehyde inhibitors as drugs. We have developed a novel class of self-masked aldehyde inhibitors (SMAIs) for cruzain, the major cysteine protease of the causative agent of Chagas disease-Trypanosoma cruzi. These SMAIs exerted potent, reversible inhibition of cruzain (Ki* = 18-350 nM) while apparently protecting the free aldehyde in cell-based assays. We synthesized prodrugs of the SMAIs that could potentially improve their pharmacokinetic properties. We also elucidated the kinetic and chemical mechanism of SMAIs and applied this strategy to the design of anti-SARS-CoV-2 inhibitors.


Subject(s)
Aldehydes/chemistry , COVID-19/drug therapy , Chagas Disease/drug therapy , Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , Trypanosoma cruzi/enzymology , Aldehydes/metabolism , Aldehydes/pharmacology , Cathepsin L/antagonists & inhibitors , Cathepsin L/metabolism , Cysteine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Cysteine Proteases/metabolism , Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors/chemistry , Drug Design , Humans , Kinetics , Models, Molecular , Molecular Structure , Protozoan Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Protozoan Proteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Structure-Activity Relationship , Trypanosoma cruzi/drug effects
6.
bioRxiv ; 2020 Oct 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-915969

ABSTRACT

K777 is a di-peptide analog that contains an electrophilic vinyl-sulfone moiety and is a potent, covalent inactivator of cathepsins. Vero E6, HeLa/ACE2, Caco-2, A549/ACE2, and Calu-3, cells were exposed to SARS-CoV-2, and then treated with K777. K777 reduced viral infectivity with EC50 values of inhibition of viral infection of: 74 nM for Vero E6, <80 nM for A549/ACE2, and 4 nM for HeLa/ACE2 cells. In contrast, Calu-3 and Caco-2 cells had EC50 values in the low micromolar range. No toxicity of K777 was observed for any of the host cells at 10-100 µM inhibitor. K777 did not inhibit activity of the papain-like cysteine protease and 3CL cysteine protease, encoded by SARS-CoV-2 at concentrations of ≤ 100 µM. These results suggested that K777 exerts its potent anti-viral activity by inactivation of mammalian cysteine proteases which are essential to viral infectivity. Using a propargyl derivative of K777 as an activity-based probe, K777 selectively targeted cathepsin B and cathepsin L in Vero E6 cells. However only cathepsin L cleaved the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and K777 blocked this proteolysis. The site of spike protein cleavage by cathepsin L was in the S1 domain of SARS-CoV-2 , differing from the cleavage site observed in the SARS CoV-1 spike protein. These data support the hypothesis that the antiviral activity of K777 is mediated through inhibition of the activity of host cathepsin L and subsequent loss of viral spike protein processing.

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