Structure-guided mutagenesis of active site residues in the dengue virus two-component protease NS2B-NS3.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The dengue virus two-component protease NS2B/NS3 mediates processing of the viral polyprotein precursor and is therefore an important determinant of virus replication. The enzyme is now intensively studied with a view to the structure-based development of antiviral inhibitors. Although 3-dimensional structures have now been elucidated for a number of flaviviral proteases, enzyme-substrate interactions are characterized only to a limited extend. The high selectivity of the dengue virus protease for the polyprotein precursor offers the distinct advantage of designing inhibitors with exquisite specificity for the viral enzyme. To identify important determinants of substrate binding and catalysis in the active site of the dengue virus NS3 protease, nine residues, L115, D129, G133, T134, Y150, G151, N152, S163 and I165, located within the S1 and S2 pockets of the enzyme were targeted by alanine substitution mutagenesis and effects on enzyme activity were fluorometrically assayed. METHODS: Alanine substitutions were introduced by site-directed mutagenesis at residues L115, D129, G133, T134, Y150, G151, N152, S163 and I165 and recombinant proteins were purified from overexpressing E. coli. Effects of these substitutions on enzymatic activity of the NS3 protease were assayed by fluorescence release from the synthetic model substrate GRR-amc and kinetic parameters Km, kcat and kcat/Km were determined. RESULTS: Kinetic data for mutant derivatives in the active site of the dengue virus NS3 protease were essentially in agreement with a functional role of the selected residues for substrate binding and/or catalysis. Only the L115A mutant displayed activity comparable to the wild-type enzyme, whereas mutation of residues Y150 and G151 to alanine completely abrogated enzyme activity. A G133A mutant had an approximately 10-fold reduced catalytic efficiency thus suggesting a critical role for this residue seemingly as part of the oxyanion binding hole. CONCLUSIONS: Kinetic data obtained for mutants in the NS3 protease have confirmed predictions for the conformation of the active site S1 and S2 pockets based on earlier observations. The data presented herein will be useful to further explore structure-activity relationships of the flaviviral proteases important for the structure-guided design of novel antiviral therapeutics.
Project description:Dengue virus belongs to the family Flaviviridae and is a major emerging pathogen for which the development of vaccines and antiviral therapy has seen little success. The NS3 viral protease is a potential target for antiviral drugs since it is required for virus replication. The goal of this study was to identify novel dengue virus (type 2; DEN2V) protease inhibitors for eventual development as effective anti-flaviviral drugs. The EUDOC docking program was used to computationally screen a small-molecule library for compounds that dock into the P1 pocket and the catalytic site of the DEN2V NS3 protease domain apo-structure [Murthy, K., Clum, S., Padmanabhan, R., 1999. Crystal structure and insights into interaction of the active site with substrates by molecular modeling and structural analysis of mutational effects. J. Biol. Chem. 274, 5573-5580] and the Bowman-Birk inhibitor-bound structure [Murthy, K., Judge, K., DeLucas, L., Padmanabhan, R., 2000. Crystal structure of dengue virus NS3 protease in complex with a Bowman-Birk inhibitor: implications for flaviviral polyprotein processing and drug design. J. Mol. Biol. 301, 759-767]. The top 20 computer-identified hits that demonstrated the most favorable scoring "energies" were selected for in vitro assessment of protease inhibition. Preliminary protease activity assays demonstrated that more than half of the tested compounds were soluble and exhibited in vitro inhibition of the DEN2V protease. Two of these compounds also inhibited viral replication in cell culture experiments, and thus are promising compounds for further development.
Project description:Flaviviruses including dengue virus and Zika virus encode a unique two-component NS2B-NS3 protease essential for maturation/infectivity, thus representing a key target for designing antiflavivirus drugs. Here, for the first time, by NMR and molecular docking, we reveal that curcumin allosterically inhibits the dengue protease by binding to a cavity with no overlap with the active site. Further molecular dynamics simulations decode that the binding of curcumin leads to unfolding/displacing the characteristic ?-hairpin of the C-terminal NS2B and consequently disrupting the closed (active) conformation of the protease. Our study identified a cavity most likely conserved in all flaviviral NS2B-NS3 proteases, which could thus serve as a therapeutic target for the discovery/design of small-molecule allosteric inhibitors. Moreover, as curcumin has been used as a food additive for thousands of years in many counties, it can be directly utilized to fight the flaviviral infections and as a promising starting for further design of potent allosteric inhibitors.
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:BACKGROUND: The enzyme activities catalysed by flavivirus non-structural protein 3 (NS3) are essential for virus replication. They are distributed between the N-terminal protease domain in the first one-third and the C-terminal ATPase/helicase and nucleoside 5' triphosphatase domain which forms the remainder of the 618-aa long protein. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this study, dengue full-length NS3 protein with residues 49 to 66 of NS2B covalently attached via a flexible linker, was used as bait in biopanning with a naïve human Fab phage-display library. Using a range of truncated constructs spanning the NS2B cofactor region and the full-length NS3, 10 unique Fab were identified and characterized. Of these, monoclonal Fab 3F8 was shown to bind ?3? (residues 526 through 531) within subdomain III of the helicase domain. The antibody inhibits the ATPase and helicase activites of NS3 in biochemical assays and reduces DENV replication in HEK293 cells that were previously transfected with Fab 3F8 compared with mock transfected cells. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Antibodies such as 3F8 are valuable tools for studying the molecular mechanisms of flaviviral replication and for the monospecific detection of replicating dengue virus in vivo.
Project description:The mosquito-transmitted dengue virus (DENV) infects millions of people in tropical and subtropical regions. Maturation of DENV particles requires proper cleavage of the viral polyprotein, including processing of 8 of the 13 substrate cleavage sites by dengue virus NS2B/NS3 protease. With no available direct-acting antiviral targeting DENV, NS2/NS3 protease is a promising target for inhibitor design. Current design efforts focus on the nonprime side of the DENV protease active site, resulting in highly hydrophilic and nonspecific scaffolds. However, the prime side also significantly modulates DENV protease binding affinity, as revealed by engineering the binding loop of aprotinin, a small protein with high affinity for DENV protease. In this study, we designed a series of cyclic peptides interacting with both sides of the active site as inhibitors of dengue virus protease. The design was based on two aprotinin loops and aimed to leverage both key specific interactions of substrate sequences and the entropic advantage driving aprotinin's high affinity. By optimizing the cyclization linker, length, and amino acid sequence, the tightest cyclic peptide achieved a Ki value of 2.9 ?M against DENV3 wild-type (WT) protease. These inhibitors provide proof of concept that both sides of DENV protease active site can be exploited to potentially achieve specificity and lower hydrophilicity in the design of inhibitors targeting DENV.IMPORTANCE Viruses of the flaviviral family, including DENV and Zika virus transmitted by Aedes aegypti, continue to be a threat to global health by causing major outbreaks in tropical and subtropical regions, with no available direct-acting antivirals for treatment. A better understanding of the molecular requirements for the design of potent and specific inhibitors against flaviviral proteins will contribute to the development of targeted therapies for infections by these viruses. The cyclic peptides reported here as DENV protease inhibitors provide novel scaffolds that enable exploiting the prime side of the protease active site, with the aim of achieving better specificity and lower hydrophilicity than those of current scaffolds in the design of antiflaviviral inhibitors.
Project description:With an estimated 40% of the world population at risk, dengue poses a significant threat to human health, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. Preventative and curative efforts, such as vaccine development and drug discovery, face additional challenges due to the occurrence of four antigenically distinct serotypes of the causative dengue virus (DEN1 to -4). Complex immune responses resulting from repeat assaults by the different serotypes necessitate simultaneous targeting of all forms of the virus. One of the promising targets for drug development is the highly conserved two-component viral protease NS2B-NS3, which plays an essential role in viral replication by processing the viral precursor polyprotein into functional proteins. In this paper, we report the 2.1-A crystal structure of the DEN1 NS2B hydrophilic core (residues 49 to 95) in complex with the NS3 protease domain (residues 1 to 186) carrying an internal deletion in the N terminus (residues 11 to 20). While the overall folds within the protease core are similar to those of DEN2 and DEN4 proteases, the conformation of the cofactor NS2B is dramatically different from those of other flaviviral apoprotease structures. The differences are especially apparent within its C-terminal region, implicated in substrate binding. The structure reveals for the first time serotype-specific structural elements in the dengue virus family, with the reported alternate conformation resulting from a unique metal-binding site within the DEN1 sequence. We also report the identification of a 10-residue stretch within NS3pro that separates the substrate-binding function from the catalytic turnover rate of the enzyme. Implications for broad-spectrum drug discovery are discussed.
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.
Project description: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 mosquito-borne dengue virus serotypes 1-4 (DENV1-4) and West Nile virus (WNV) cause serious illnesses worldwide associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, there are about 390 million infections every year leading to ?500,000 dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) cases and ?25,000 deaths, mostly among children. Antiviral therapies could reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with flaviviral infections, but currently there are no drugs available for treatment. In this study, a high-throughput screening assay for the Dengue protease was employed to screen ?120,000 small molecule compounds for identification of inhibitors. Eight of these inhibitors have been extensively analyzed for inhibition of the viral protease in vitro and cell-based viral replication using Renilla luciferase reporter replicon, infectivity (plaque) and cytotoxicity assays. Three of these compounds were identified as potent inhibitors of DENV and WNV proteases, and viral replication of DENV2 replicon and infectious RNA. Fluorescence quenching, kinetic analysis and molecular modeling of these inhibitors into the structure of NS2B-NS3 protease suggest a mode of inhibition for three compounds that they bind to the substrate binding pocket.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Viruses of the flaviviridae family are responsible for some of the major infectious viral diseases around the world and there is an urgent need for drug development for these diseases. Most of the virtual screening methods in flaviviral drug discovery suffer from a low hit rate, strain-specific efficacy differences, and susceptibility to resistance. It is because they often fail to capture the key pharmacological features of the target active site critical for protein function inhibition. So in our current work, for the flaviviral NS3 protease, we summarized the pharmacophore features at the protease active site as anchors (subsite-moiety interactions). RESULTS:For each of the four flaviviral NS3 proteases (i.e., HCV, DENV, WNV, and JEV), the anchors were obtained and summarized into 'Pharmacophore anchor (PA) models'. To capture the conserved pharmacophore anchors across these proteases, were merged the four PA models. We identified five consensus core anchors (CEH1, CH3, CH7, CV1, CV3) in all PA models, represented as the "Core pharmacophore anchor (CPA) model" and also identified specific anchors unique to the PA models. Our PA/CPA models complied with 89 known NS3 protease inhibitors. Furthermore, we proposed an integrated anchor-based screening method using the anchors from our models for discovering inhibitors. This method was applied on the DENV NS3 protease to screen FDA drugs discovering boceprevir, telaprevir and asunaprevir as promising anti-DENV candidates. Experimental testing against DV2-NGC virus by in-vitro plaque assays showed that asunaprevir and telaprevir inhibited viral replication with EC50 values of 10.4 ?M & 24.5 ?M respectively. The structure-anchor-activity relationships (SAAR) showed that our PA/CPA model anchors explained the observed in-vitro activities of the candidates. Also, we observed that the CEH1 anchor engagement was critical for the activities of telaprevir and asunaprevir while the extent of inhibitor anchor occupation guided their efficacies. CONCLUSION:These results validate our NS3 protease PA/CPA models, anchors and the integrated anchor-based screening method to be useful in inhibitor discovery and lead optimization, thus accelerating flaviviral drug discovery.