Dengue virus is a major human pathogen that infects over 390 million people annually leading to approximately 500 000 hospitalizations due to severe dengue. Since the only marketed vaccine, Dengvaxia, has recently been shown to increase disease severity in those lacking natural immunity, antivirals to prevent or treat dengue infection represent a large, unmet medical need. Small molecules that target the dengue virus envelope protein, E, on the surface of the virion could act analogously to antibodies by engaging E extracellularly to block infection; however, a shortage of target-based assays suitable for screening and medicinal chemistry studies has limited efforts in this area. Here we demonstrate that the dengue E protein offers a tractable drug target for preventing dengue infection by developing a target-based assay using a recombinantly expressed dengue serotype 2 E protein. We performed a high-throughput screen of ∼20 000 compounds followed by secondary assays to confirm target-binding and antiviral activity and counter-screens to exclude compounds with nonspecific activities. These efforts yielded eight distinct chemical leads that inhibit dengue infection by binding to E and preventing E-mediated membrane fusion with potencies equal to or greater than previously described small molecule inhibitors of E. We show that a subset of these compounds inhibit viruses representative of the other three dengue serotypes and Zika virus. This work provides tools for discovery and optimization of direct-acting antivirals against dengue E and shows that this approach may be useful in developing antivirals with broad-spectrum activity against other flavivirus pathogens.
The Clp protease complex in Mycobacterium tuberculosis is unusual in its composition, functional importance and activation mechanism. Whilst most bacterial species contain a single ClpP protein that is dispensable for normal growth, mycobacteria have two ClpPs, ClpP1 and ClpP2, which are essential for viability and together form the ClpP1P2 tetradecamer. Acyldepsipeptide antibiotics of the ADEP class inhibit the growth of Gram-positive firmicutes by activating ClpP and causing unregulated protein degradation. Here we show that, in contrast, mycobacteria are killed by ADEP through inhibition of ClpP function. Although ADEPs can stimulate purified M. tuberculosis ClpP1P2 to degrade larger peptides and unstructured proteins, this effect is weaker than for ClpP from other bacteria and depends on the presence of an additional activating factor (e.g. the dipeptide benzyloxycarbonyl-leucyl-leucine in vitro) to form the active ClpP1P2 tetradecamer. The cell division protein FtsZ, which is a particularly sensitive target for ADEP-activated ClpP in firmicutes, is not degraded in mycobacteria. Depletion of the ClpP1P2 level in a conditional Mycobacterium bovis BCG mutant enhanced killing by ADEP unlike in other bacteria. In summary, ADEPs kill mycobacteria by preventing interaction of ClpP1P2 with the regulatory ATPases, ClpX or ClpC1, thus inhibiting essential ATP-dependent protein degradation.
Dengue virus infects more than 300 million people annually, yet there is no widely protective vaccine or drugs against the virus. Efforts to develop antivirals against classical targets such as the viral protease and polymerase have not yielded drugs that have advanced to the clinic. Here, we show that the allosteric Abl kinase inhibitor GNF-2 interferes with dengue virus replication via activity mediated by cellular Abl kinases but additionally blocks viral entry via an Abl-independent mechanism. To characterize this newly discovered antiviral activity, we developed disubstituted pyrimidines that block dengue virus entry with structure-activity relationships distinct from those driving kinase inhibition. We demonstrate that biotin- and fluorophore-conjugated derivatives of GNF-2 interact with the dengue glycoprotein, E, in the pre-fusion conformation that exists on the virion surface, and that this interaction inhibits viral entry. This study establishes GNF-2 as an antiviral compound with polypharmacological activity and provides "lead" compounds for further optimization efforts.
The ClpP protease complex and its regulatory ATPases, ClpC1 and ClpX, inMycobacterium tuberculosis(Mtb) are essential and, therefore, promising drug targets. TheMtbClpP protease consists of two heptameric rings, one composed of ClpP1 and the other of ClpP2 subunits. Formation of the enzymatically active ClpP1P2 complex requires binding of N-blocked dipeptide activators. We have found a new potent activator, benzoyl-leucine-leucine (Bz-LL), that binds with higher affinity and promotes 3-4-fold higher peptidase activity than previous activators. Bz-LL-activated ClpP1P2 specifically stimulates the ATPase activity ofMtbClpC1 and ClpX. The ClpC1P1P2 and ClpXP1P2 complexes exhibit 2-3-fold enhanced ATPase activity, peptide cleavage, and ATP-dependent protein degradation. The crystal structure of ClpP1P2 with bound Bz-LL was determined at a resolution of 3.07 Å and with benzyloxycarbonyl-Leu-Leu (Z-LL) bound at 2.9 Å. Bz-LL was present in all 14 active sites, whereas Z-LL density was not resolved. Surprisingly, Bz-LL adopts opposite orientations in ClpP1 and ClpP2. In ClpP1, Bz-LL binds with the C-terminal leucine side chain in the S1 pocket. One C-terminal oxygen is close to the catalytic serine, whereas the other contacts backbone amides in the oxyanion hole. In ClpP2, Bz-LL binds with the benzoyl group in the S1 pocket, and the peptide hydrogen bonded between parallel β-strands. The ClpP2 axial loops are extended, forming an open axial channel as has been observed with bound ADEP antibiotics. Thus occupancy of the active sites of ClpP allosterically alters sites on the surfaces thereby affecting the association of ClpP1 and ClpP2 rings, interactions with regulatory ATPases, and entry of protein substrates.
The ClpP1P2 protease complex is essential for viability in Mycobacteria tuberculosis and is an attractive drug target. Using a fluorogenic tripeptide library (Ac-X3X2X1-aminomethylcoumarin) and by determining specificity constants (kcat/Km), we show that ClpP1P2 prefers Met ≫ Leu > Phe > Ala in the X1 position, basic residues or Trp in the X2 position, and Pro ≫ Ala > Trp in the X3 position. We identified peptide substrates that are hydrolyzed up to 1000 times faster than the standard ClpP substrate. These positional preferences were consistent with cleavage sites in the protein GFPssrA by ClpXP1P2. Studies of ClpP1P2 with inactive ClpP1 or ClpP2 indicated that ClpP1 was responsible for nearly all the peptidase activity, whereas both ClpP1 and ClpP2 contributed to protein degradation. Substrate-based peptide boronates were synthesized that inhibit ClpP1P2 peptidase activity in the submicromolar range. Some of them inhibited the growth of Mtb cells in the low micromolar range indicating that cleavage specificity of Mtb ClpP1P2 can be used to design novel anti-bacterial agents.