Cleavage preference distinguishes the two-component NS2B-NS3 serine proteinases of Dengue and West Nile viruses.
ABSTRACT: Regulated proteolysis of the polyprotein precursor by the NS2B-NS3 protease is required for the propagation of infectious virions. Unless the structural and functional parameters of NS2B-NS3 are precisely determined, an understanding of its functional role and the design of flaviviral inhibitors will be exceedingly difficult. Our objectives were to define the substrate recognition pattern of the NS2B-NS3 protease of West Nile and Dengue virises (WNV and DV respectively). To accomplish our goals, we used an efficient, 96-well plate format, method for the synthesis of 9-mer peptide substrates with the general P4-P3-P2-P1-P1'-P2'-P3'-P4'-Gly structure. The N-terminus and the constant C-terminal Gly of the peptides were tagged with a fluorescent tag and with a biotin tag respectively. The synthesis was followed by the proteolytic cleavage of the synthesized, tagged peptides. Because of the strict requirement for the presence of basic amino acid residues at the P1 and the P2 substrate positions, the analysis of approx. 300 peptide sequences was sufficient for an adequate representation of the cleavage preferences of the WNV and DV proteinases. Our results disclosed the strict substrate specificity of the WNV protease for which the (K/R)(K/R)R/GG amino acid motifs was optimal. The DV protease was less selective and it tolerated well the presence of a number of amino acid residue types at either the P1' or the P2' site, as long as the other position was occupied by a glycine residue. We believe that our data represent a valuable biochemical resource and a solid foundation to support the design of selective substrates and synthetic inhibitors of flaviviral proteinases.
Project description:The flavivirus NS2B-NS3(pro)teinase is an essential element in the proteolytic processing of the viral precursor polyprotein and therefore a potential drug target. Recently, crystal structures and substrate preferences of NS2B-NS3pro from Dengue and West Nile viruses (DV and WNV) were determined. We established that the presence of Gly-Gly at the P1'-P2' positions is optimal for cleavage by WNV NS3pro, whereas DV NS3pro tolerates well the presence of bulky residues at either P1' or P2'. Structure-based modeling suggests that Arg(76) and Pro(131)-Thr(132) limit the P1'-P2' subsites and restrict the cleavage preferences of the WNV enzyme. In turn, Leu(76) and Lys(131)-Pro(132) widen the specificity of DV NS3pro. Guided by these structural models, we expressed and purified mutant WNV NS2B-NS3pro and evaluated cleavage preferences by using positional scanning of the substrate peptides in which the P4-P1 and the P3'-P4' positions were fixed and the P1' and P2' positions were each randomized. We established that WNV R76L and P131K-T132P mutants acquired DV-like cleavage preferences, whereas T52V had no significant effect. Our work is the first instance of engineering a viral proteinase with switched cleavage preferences and should provide valuable data for the design of optimized substrates and substrate-based selective inhibitors of flaviviral proteinases.
Project description:Pathogenic members of the flavivirus family, including West Nile Virus (WNV) and Dengue Virus (DV), are growing global threats for which there are no specific treatments. The two-component flaviviral enzyme NS2B-NS3 cleaves the viral polyprotein precursor within the host cell, a process that is required for viral replication. Here, we report the crystal structure of WNV NS2B-NS3pro both in a substrate-free form and in complex with the trypsin inhibitor aprotinin/BPTI. We show that aprotinin binds in a substrate-mimetic fashion in which the productive conformation of the protease is fully formed, providing evidence for an "induced fit" mechanism of catalysis and allowing us to rationalize the distinct substrate specificities of WNV and DV proteases. We also show that the NS2B cofactor of WNV can adopt two very distinct conformations and that this is likely to be a general feature of flaviviral proteases, providing further opportunities for regulation. Finally, by comparing the flaviviral proteases with the more distantly related Hepatitis C virus, we provide insights into the evolution of the Flaviviridae fold. Our work should expedite the design of protease inhibitors to treat a range of flaviviral infections.
Project description:A series of cyclic active-site-directed inhibitors of the NS2B-NS3 proteases from Zika (ZIKV), West Nile (WNV), and dengue-4 (DENV4) viruses has been designed. The most potent compounds contain a reversely incorporated d-lysine residue in the P1 position. Its side chain is connected to the P2 backbone, its ?-amino group is converted into a guanidine to interact with the conserved Asp129 side chain in the S1 pocket, and its C terminus is connected to the P3 residue via different linker segments. The most potent compounds inhibit the ZIKV protease with Ki values <5?nM. Crystal structures of seven ZIKV protease inhibitor complexes were determined to support the inhibitor design. All the cyclic compounds possess high selectivity against trypsin-like serine proteases and furin-like proprotein convertases. Both WNV and DENV4 proteases are inhibited less efficiently. Nonetheless, similar structure-activity relationships were observed for these enzymes, thus suggesting their potential application as pan-flaviviral protease inhibitors.
Project description:The NS3 (dengue virus non-structural protein 3) serine protease of dengue virus is an essential component for virus maturation, thus representing an attractive target for the development of antiviral drugs directed at the inhibition of polyprotein processing. In the present study, we have investigated determinants of substrate specificity of the dengue virus NS3 protease by using internally quenched fluorogenic peptides containing Abz (o-aminobenzoic acid; synonymous to anthranilic acid) and 3-nitrotyrosine (nY) representing both native and chimaeric polyprotein cleavage site sequences. By using this combinatorial approach, we were able to describe the substrate preferences and determinants of specificity for the dengue virus NS2B(H)-NS3pro protease. Kinetic parameters (kcat/K(m)) for the hydrolysis of peptide substrates with systematic truncations at the prime and non-prime side revealed a length preference for peptides spanning the P4-P3' residues, and the peptide Abz-RRRRSAGnY-amide based on the dengue virus capsid protein processing site was discovered as a novel and efficient substrate of the NS3 protease (kcat/K(m)=11087 M(-1) x s(-1)). Thus, while having confirmed the exclusive preference of the NS3 protease for basic residues at the P1 and P2 positions, we have also shown that the presence of basic amino acids at the P3 and P4 positions is a major specificity-determining feature of the dengue virus NS3 protease. Investigation of the substrate peptide Abz-KKQRAGVLnY-amide based on the NS2B/NS3 polyprotein cleavage site demonstrated an unexpected high degree of cleavage efficiency. Chimaeric peptides with combinations of prime and non-prime sequences spanning the P4-P4' positions of all five native polyprotein cleavage sites revealed a preponderant effect of non-prime side residues on the K(m) values, whereas variations at the prime side sequences had higher impact on kcat.
Project description:West Nile virus (WNV) and Dengue virus (DENV) replication depends on the viral NS2B-NS3 protease and the host enzyme furin, which emerged as potential drug targets. Modification of our previously described WNV protease inhibitors by basic phenylalanine analogs provided compounds with reduced potency against the WNV and DENV protease. In a second series, their decarboxylated P1-trans-(4-guanidino)cyclohexylamide was replaced by an arginyl-amide moiety. Compound 4-(guanidinomethyl)-phenylacetyl-Lys-Lys-Arg-NH2 inhibits the NS2B-NS3 protease of WNV with an inhibition constant of 0.11 µM. Due to the similarity in substrate specificity, we have also tested the potency of our previously described multibasic furin inhibitors. Their further modification provided chimeric inhibitors with additional potency against the WNV and DENV proteases. A strong inhibition of WNV and DENV replication in cell culture was observed for the specific furin inhibitors, which reduced virus titers up to 10,000-fold. These studies reveal that potent inhibitors of furin can block the replication of DENV and WNV.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a member of the Flaviviridae family, causes around 68,000 encephalitis cases annually, of which 20-30% are fatal, while 30-50% of the recovered cases develop severe neurological sequelae. Specific antivirals for JEV would be of great importance, particularly in those cases where the infection has become persistent. Being indispensable for flaviviral replication, the NS2B-NS3 protease is a promising target for design of anti-flaviviral inhibitors. Contrary to related flaviviral proteases, the JEV NS2B-NS3 protease is structurally and mechanistically much less characterized. Here we aimed at establishing a straightforward procedure for cloning, expression, purification and biochemical characterization of JEV NS2B(H)-NS3pro protease. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The full-length sequence of JEV NS2B-NS3 genotype III strain JaOArS 982 was obtained as a synthetic gene. The sequence of NS2B(H)-NS3pro was generated by splicing by overlap extension PCR (SOE-PCR) and cloned into the pTrcHisA vector. Hexahistidine-tagged NS2B(H)-NS3pro, expressed in E. coli as soluble protein, was purified to >95% purity by a single-step immobilized metal affinity chromatography. SDS-PAGE and immunoblotting of the purified enzyme demonstrated NS2B(H)-NS3pro precursor and its autocleavage products, NS3pro and NS2B(H), as 36, 21, and 10 kDa bands, respectively. Kinetic parameters, K(m) and k(cat), for fluorogenic protease model substrates, Boc-GRR-amc, Boc-LRR-amc, Ac-nKRR-amc, Bz-nKRR-amc, Pyr-RTKR-amc and Abz-(R)(4)SAG-nY-amide, were obtained using inner filter effect correction. The highest catalytic efficiency k(cat)/K(m) was found for Pyr-RTKR-amc (k(cat)/K(m): 1962.96 ± 85.0 M(-1) s(-1)) and the lowest for Boc-LRR-amc (k(cat)/K(m): 3.74±0.3 M(-1) s(-1)). JEV NS3pro is inhibited by aprotinin but to a lesser extent than DEN and WNV NS3pro. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: A simplified procedure for the cloning, overexpression and purification of the NS2B(H)-NS3pro was established which is generally applicable to other flaviviral proteases. Kinetic parameters obtained for a number of model substrates and inhibitors, are useful for the characterization of substrate specificity and eventually for the design of high-throughput assays aimed at antiviral inhibitor discovery.
Project description:West Nile virus (WNV) has recently emerged in North America as a significant disease threat to humans and animals. Unfortunately, no approved antiviral drugs exist to combat WNV or other members of the genus Flavivirus in humans. The WNV NS2B-NS3 protease has been one of the primary targets for anti-WNV drug discovery and design since it is required for virus replication. As part of our efforts to develop effective WNV inhibitors, we reexamined the reaction kinetics of the NS2B-NS3 protease and the inhibition mechanisms of newly discovered inhibitors. The WNV protease showed substrate inhibition in assays utilizing fluorophore-linked peptide substrates GRR, GKR, and DFASGKR. Moreover, a substrate inhibition reaction step was required to accurately model kinetic data generated from protease assays with a peptide inhibitor. The substrate inhibition model suggested that peptide substrates could bind to two binding sites on the protease. Reaction product analogues also showed inhibition of the protease, demonstrating product inhibition in addition to and distinct from substrate inhibition. We propose that small peptide substrates and inhibitors may interact with protease residues that form either the P3-P1 binding surface (i.e., the S3-S1 sites) or the P1'-P3' interaction surface (i.e., the S1'-S3' sites). Optimization of substrate analogue inhibitors that target these two independent sites may lead to novel anti-WNV drugs.
Project description:Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral hemorrhagic disease that is a major threat to human health in tropical and subtropical regions. Here we report crystal structures of a peptide covalently bound to dengue virus serotype 3 (DENV-3) protease as well as the serine-protease inhibitor aprotinin bound to the same enzyme. These structures reveal, for the first time, a catalytically active, closed conformation of the DENV protease. In the presence of the peptide, the DENV-3 protease forms the closed conformation in which the hydrophilic β-hairpin region of NS2B wraps around the NS3 protease core, in a manner analogous to the structure of West Nile virus (WNV) protease. Our results confirm that flavivirus proteases form the closed conformation during proteolysis, as previously proposed for WNV. The current DENV-3 protease structures reveal the detailed interactions at the P4' to P3 sites of the substrate. The new structural information explains the sequence preference, particularly for long basic residues in the nonprime side, as well as the difference in substrate specificity between the WNV and DENV proteases at the prime side. Structural analysis of the DENV-3 protease-peptide complex revealed a pocket that is formed by residues from NS2B and NS3; this pocket also exists in the WNV NS2B/NS3 protease structure and could be targeted for potential antivirus development. The structural information presented in the current study is invaluable for the design of specific inhibitors of DENV protease.
Project description:There is a need to develop inhibitors of mosquito-borne flaviviruses, including WNV (West Nile virus). In the present paper, we describe a novel and efficient recombinant-antibody technology that led us to the isolation of inhibitory high-affinity human antibodies to the active-site region of a viral proteinase. As a proof-of-principal, we have successfully used this technology and the synthetic naive human combinatorial antibody library HuCAL GOLD(R) to isolate selective and potent function-blocking active-site-targeting antibodies to the two-component WNV NS (non-structural protein) 2B-NS3 serine proteinase, the only proteinase encoded by the flaviviral genome. First, we used the wild-type enzyme in antibody screens. Next, the positive antibody clones were counter-screened using an NS2B-NS3 mutant with a single mutation of the catalytically essential active-site histidine residue. The specificity of the antibodies to the active site was confirmed by substrate-cleavage reactions and also by using proteinase mutants with additional single amino-acid substitutions in the active-site region. The selected WNV antibodies did not recognize the structurally similar viral proteinases from Dengue virus type 2 and hepatitis C virus, and human serine proteinases. Because of their high selectivity and affinity, the identified human antibodies are attractive reagents for both further mutagenesis and structure-based optimization and, in addition, for studies of NS2B-NS3 activity. Conceptually, it is likely that the generic technology reported in the present paper will be useful for the generation of active-site-specific antibody probes for multiple enzymes.
Project description:Dengue virus (DENV), transmitted predominantly in tropical and subtropical regions by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, infects millions of people and leads to dengue fever and thousands of deaths each year. There are no direct-acting antivirals to combat DENV, and molecular and structural knowledge is required to develop such compounds. The dengue NS2B/NS3 protease is a promising target for direct-acting antivirals, as viral polyprotein cleavage during replication is required for the maturation of the viral particle. The NS2B/NS3 protease processes 8 of the 13 viral polyprotein cleavage sites to allow viral maturation. Although these sites share little sequence homology beyond the P1 and P2 positions, most are well conserved among the serotypes. How the other substrate residues, especially at the P' side, affect substrate recognition remains unclear. We exploited the tight-binding general serine protease inhibitor aprotinin to investigate protease-substrate interactions at the molecular level. We engineered aprotinin's binding loop with sequences mimicking the P' side of DENV substrates. P' residues significantly modulate substrate affinity to protease, with inhibition constants varying from nanomolar to sub-millimolar. Structural and dynamic analysis revealed the molecular basis of this modulation and allowed identifying optimal residues for each of the P' positions. In addition, isothermal titration calorimetry showed binding to be solely entropy driven for all constructs. Potential flaviviral P' side inhibitors could benefit from mimicking the optimal residues at P' positions and incorporate hydrophobicity and rigidity to maintain entropic advantage for potency.