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Int J Mol Sci ; 22(21)2021 Oct 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1488616


After almost two years from its first evidence, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to afflict people worldwide, highlighting the need for multiple antiviral strategies. SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro/3CLpro) is a recognized promising target for the development of effective drugs. Because single target inhibition might not be sufficient to block SARS-CoV-2 infection and replication, multi enzymatic-based therapies may provide a better strategy. Here we present a structural and biochemical characterization of the binding mode of MG-132 to both the main protease of SARS-CoV-2, and to the human Cathepsin-L, suggesting thus an interesting scaffold for the development of double-inhibitors. X-ray diffraction data show that MG-132 well fits into the Mpro active site, forming a covalent bond with Cys145 independently from reducing agents and crystallization conditions. Docking of MG-132 into Cathepsin-L well-matches with a covalent binding to the catalytic cysteine. Accordingly, MG-132 inhibits Cathepsin-L with nanomolar potency and reversibly inhibits Mpro with micromolar potency, but with a prolonged residency time. We compared the apo and MG-132-inhibited structures of Mpro solved in different space groups and we identified a new apo structure that features several similarities with the inhibited ones, offering interesting perspectives for future drug design and in silico efforts.

COVID-19/drug therapy , Cathepsin L/drug effects , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/drug effects , Leupeptins/chemistry , Leupeptins/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Catalytic Domain/drug effects , Cathepsin L/chemistry , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/chemistry , Drug Design , Drug Discovery , Humans , Molecular Docking Simulation , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Peptidomimetics , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , Virus Replication/drug effects , X-Ray Diffraction
Biochem J ; 478(13): 2499-2515, 2021 07 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1291175


The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), spread around the world with unprecedented health and socio-economic effects for the global population. While different vaccines are now being made available, very few antiviral drugs have been approved. The main viral protease (nsp5) of SARS-CoV-2 provides an excellent target for antivirals, due to its essential and conserved function in the viral replication cycle. We have expressed, purified and developed assays for nsp5 protease activity. We screened the nsp5 protease against a custom chemical library of over 5000 characterised pharmaceuticals. We identified calpain inhibitor I and three different peptidyl fluoromethylketones (FMK) as inhibitors of nsp5 activity in vitro, with IC50 values in the low micromolar range. By altering the sequence of our peptidomimetic FMK inhibitors to better mimic the substrate sequence of nsp5, we generated an inhibitor with a subnanomolar IC50. Calpain inhibitor I inhibited viral infection in monkey-derived Vero E6 cells, with an EC50 in the low micromolar range. The most potent and commercially available peptidyl-FMK compound inhibited viral growth in Vero E6 cells to some extent, while our custom peptidyl FMK inhibitor offered a marked antiviral improvement.

Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/antagonists & inhibitors , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , Small Molecule Libraries/pharmacology , Amino Acid Chloromethyl Ketones/pharmacology , Animals , Azoles/pharmacology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/genetics , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/isolation & purification , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/metabolism , Enzyme Assays , Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer , High-Throughput Screening Assays , Isoindoles , Leupeptins/pharmacology , Organoselenium Compounds/pharmacology , Peptidomimetics , RNA-Binding Proteins/metabolism , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Small Molecule Libraries/chemistry , Vero Cells , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism