Two years after its emergence, SARS-CoV-2 still represents a serious and global threat to human health. Antiviral drug development usually takes a long time and, to increase the chances of success, chemical variability of hit compounds represents a valuable source for the discovery of new antivirals. In this work, we applied a platform of variably oriented virtual screening campaigns to seek for novel chemical scaffolds for SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro) inhibitors. The study on the resulting 30 best hits led to the identification of a series of structurally unrelated Mpro inhibitors. Some of them exhibited antiviral activity in the low micromolar range against SARS-CoV-2 and other human coronaviruses (HCoVs) in different cell lines. Time-of-addition experiments demonstrated an antiviral effect during the viral replication cycle at a time frame consistent with the inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro activity. As a proof-of-concept, to validate the pharmaceutical potential of the selected hits against SARS-CoV-2, we rationally optimized one of the hit compounds and obtained two potent SARS-CoV-2 inhibitors with increased activity against Mpro both in vitro and in a cellular context, as well as against SARS-CoV-2 replication in infected cells. This study significantly contributes to the expansion of the chemical variability of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro inhibitors and provides new scaffolds to be exploited for pan-coronavirus antiviral drug development.

Discovery of novel SARS-CoV-2 inhibitors targeting the main protease Mpro by virtual screenings and hit optimization

Mercorelli, Beatrice;Desantis, Jenny;Celegato, Marta;Bazzacco, Alessandro;Loregian, Arianna
2022

Abstract

Two years after its emergence, SARS-CoV-2 still represents a serious and global threat to human health. Antiviral drug development usually takes a long time and, to increase the chances of success, chemical variability of hit compounds represents a valuable source for the discovery of new antivirals. In this work, we applied a platform of variably oriented virtual screening campaigns to seek for novel chemical scaffolds for SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro) inhibitors. The study on the resulting 30 best hits led to the identification of a series of structurally unrelated Mpro inhibitors. Some of them exhibited antiviral activity in the low micromolar range against SARS-CoV-2 and other human coronaviruses (HCoVs) in different cell lines. Time-of-addition experiments demonstrated an antiviral effect during the viral replication cycle at a time frame consistent with the inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro activity. As a proof-of-concept, to validate the pharmaceutical potential of the selected hits against SARS-CoV-2, we rationally optimized one of the hit compounds and obtained two potent SARS-CoV-2 inhibitors with increased activity against Mpro both in vitro and in a cellular context, as well as against SARS-CoV-2 replication in infected cells. This study significantly contributes to the expansion of the chemical variability of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro inhibitors and provides new scaffolds to be exploited for pan-coronavirus antiviral drug development.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3455896
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