Dual inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 and human rhinovirus with protease inhibitors in clinical development

Antiviral Res. 2021 Mar;187:105020. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2021.105020. Epub 2021 Jan 27.

Abstract

The 3-chymotrypsin-like cysteine protease (3CLpro) of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is considered a major target for the discovery of direct antiviral agents. We previously reported the evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 3CLpro inhibitors in a novel self-assembled monolayer desorption ionization mass spectrometry (SAMDI-MS) enzymatic assay (Gurard-Levin et al., 2020). The assay was further improved by adding the rhinovirus HRV3C protease to the same well as the SARS-CoV-2 3CLpro enzyme. High substrate specificity for each enzyme allowed the proteases to be combined in a single assay reaction without interfering with their individual activities. This novel duplex assay was used to profile a diverse set of reference protease inhibitors. The protease inhibitors were grouped into three categories based on their relative potency against 3CLpro and HRV3C including those that are: equipotent against 3CLpro and HRV3C (GC376 and calpain inhibitor II), selective for 3CLpro (PF-00835231, calpain inhibitor XII, boceprevir), and selective for HRV3C (rupintrivir). Structural analysis showed that the combination of minimal interactions, conformational flexibility, and limited bulk allows GC376 and calpain inhibitor II to potently inhibit both enzymes. In contrast, bulkier compounds interacting more tightly with pockets P2, P3, and P4 due to optimization for a specific target display a more selective inhibition profile. Consistently, the most selective viral protease inhibitors were relatively weak inhibitors of human cathepsin L. Taken together, these results can guide the design of cysteine protease inhibitors that are either virus-specific or retain a broad antiviral spectrum against coronaviruses and rhinoviruses.

Keywords: 3CLpro; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Mass spectrometry; Protease inhibitor; Rhinovirus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / chemistry
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Binding Sites
  • Cathepsin L / metabolism
  • Coronavirus 3C Proteases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Drug Discovery
  • Glycoproteins / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protease Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Protease Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Pyrrolidines / pharmacology
  • Rhinovirus / drug effects*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects*
  • Sulfonic Acids

Substances

  • Antiviral Agents
  • Glycoproteins
  • Protease Inhibitors
  • Pyrrolidines
  • Sulfonic Acids
  • calpain inhibitors
  • CTSL protein, human
  • Cathepsin L
  • Coronavirus 3C Proteases
  • GC376