Structural analysis of asunaprevir resistance in HCV NS3/4A protease.
ABSTRACT: Asunaprevir (ASV), an isoquinoline-based competitive inhibitor targeting the hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS3/4A protease, is very potent in vivo. However, the potency is significantly compromised by the drug resistance mutations R155K and D168A. In this study three crystal structures of ASV and an analogue were determined to analyze the structural basis of drug resistance susceptibility. These structures revealed that ASV makes extensive contacts with Arg155 outside the substrate envelope. Arg155 in turn is stabilized by Asp168, and thus when either residue is mutated, the enzyme's interaction with ASV's P2* isoquinoline is disrupted. Adding a P1-P3 macrocycle to ASV enhances the inhibitor's resistance barrier, likely due to poising the inhibitor to its bound conformation. Macrocyclic inhibitors with P2* extension moieties avoiding interaction with the protease S2 residues including Arg155 must be chosen for future design of more robust protease inhibitors.
Project description:A substrate envelope-guided design strategy is reported for improving the resistance profile of HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitors. Analogues of 5172-mcP1P3 were designed by incorporating diverse quinoxalines at the P2 position that predominantly interact with the invariant catalytic triad of the protease. Exploration of structure-activity relationships showed that inhibitors with small hydrophobic substituents at the 3-position of P2 quinoxaline maintain better potency against drug resistant variants, likely due to reduced interactions with residues in the S2 subsite. In contrast, inhibitors with larger groups at this position were highly susceptible to mutations at Arg155, Ala156, and Asp168. Excitingly, several inhibitors exhibited exceptional potency profiles with EC50 values ?5 nM against major drug resistant HCV variants. These findings support that inhibitors designed to interact with evolutionarily constrained regions of the protease, while avoiding interactions with residues not essential for substrate recognition, are less likely to be susceptible to drug resistance.
Project description:A series of linear HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitors was designed by eliminating the P2-P4 macrocyclic linker in grazoprevir, which, in addition to conferring conformational flexibility, allowed structure-activity relationship (SAR) exploration of diverse quinoxalines at the P2 position. Biochemical and replicon data indicated preference for small hydrophobic groups at the 3-position of P2 quinoxaline for maintaining potency against resistant variants R155K, A156T, and D168A/V. The linear inhibitors, though generally less potent than the corresponding macrocyclic analogues, were relatively easier to synthesize and less susceptible to drug resistance. Three inhibitor cocrystal structures bound to wild-type NS3/4A protease revealed a conformation with subtle changes in the binding of P2 quinoxaline, depending on the 3-position substituent, likely impacting both inhibitor potency and resistance profile. The SAR and structural analysis highlight inhibitor features that strengthen interactions of the P2 moiety with the catalytic triad residues, providing valuable insights to improve potency against resistant variants.
Project description:The hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects an estimated 150 million people worldwide and is the major cause of viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. The available antiviral therapies, which include PEGylated interferon, ribavirin, and one of the HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitors telaprevir or boceprevir, are ineffective for some patients and cause severe side effects. More potent NS3/4A protease inhibitors are in clinical development, but the long-term effectiveness of these drugs is challenged by the development of drug resistance. Here, we investigated the role of macrocycles in the susceptibility of NS3/4A protease inhibitors to drug resistance in asunaprevir, danoprevir, vaniprevir, and MK-5172, with similar core structures but varied P2 moieties and macrocyclizations. Linear and macrocyclic analogues of these drugs were designed, synthesized, and tested against wild-type and drug-resistant variants R155K, V36M/R155K, A156T, and D168A in enzymatic and antiviral assays. Macrocyclic inhibitors were generally more potent, but the location of the macrocycle was critical for retaining activity against drug-resistant variants: the P1-P3 macrocyclic inhibitors were less susceptible to drug resistance than the linear and P2-P4 macrocyclic analogues. In addition, the heterocyclic moiety at P2 largely determined the inhibitor resistance profile, susceptibility to drug resistance, and the extent of modulation by the helicase domain. Our findings suggest that to design robust inhibitors that retain potency to drug-resistant NS3/4A protease variants, inhibitors should combine P1-P3 macrocycles with flexible P2 moieties that optimally contact with the invariable catalytic triad of this enzyme.
Project description:Asunaprevir (BMS-650032) is a potent hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS3 protease inhibitor demonstrating efficacy in alfa interferon-sparing, direct-acting antiviral dual-combination regimens (together with the NS5A replication complex inhibitor daclatasvir) in patients chronically infected with HCV genotype 1b. Here, we describe a comprehensive in vitro genotypic and phenotypic analysis of asunaprevir-associated resistance against genotypes 1a and 1b using HCV replicons and patient samples obtained from clinical studies of short-term asunaprevir monotherapy. During genotype 1a resistance selection using HCV replicons, the primary NS3 protease substitutions identified were R155K, D168G, and I170T, which conferred low- to moderate-level asunaprevir resistance (5- to 21-fold) in transient-transfection susceptibility assays. For genotype 1b, a higher level of asunaprevir-associated resistance was observed at the same selection pressures, ranging from 170- to 400-fold relative to the wild-type control. The primary NS3 protease substitutions identified occurred predominantly at amino acid residue D168 (D168A/G/H/V/Y) and were associated with high-level asunaprevir resistance (16- to 280-fold) and impaired replication capacity. In asunaprevir single-ascending-dose and 3-day multiple-ascending-dose studies in HCV genotype 1a- or 1b-infected patients, the predominant pre-existing NS3 baseline polymorphism was NS3-Q80K. This substitution impacted initial virologic response rates in a single-ascending-dose study, but its effects after multiple doses were more ambiguous. Interestingly, for patient NS3 protease sequences containing Q80 and those containing K80, susceptibilities to asunaprevir were comparable when tested in an enzyme assay. No resistance-associated variants emerged in these clinical studies that significantly impacted susceptibility to asunaprevir. Importantly, asunaprevir-resistant replicons remained susceptible to an NS5A replication complex inhibitor, consistent with a role for asunaprevir in combination therapies.
Project description:Despite significant progress in hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitor (PI) drug design, resistance remains a problem causing treatment failure. Double-substitution variants, notably Y56H/D168A, have emerged in patients who fail therapy with a PI-containing regimen. The resistance conferred by Asp168 substitutions has been well characterized and avoided in newer inhibitors. However, an additional mutation at Tyr56 confers resistance to even the most robust inhibitors. Here, we elucidate the molecular mechanisms of resistance for the Y56H/D168A variant against grazoprevir (and four analogs), paritaprevir, and danoprevir through inhibition assays, co-crystal structures, and molecular dynamics simulations. The PIs' susceptibility to Y56H/D168A varies, with those stacking on the catalytic His57 losing the most potency. For such inhibitors, the Y56H substitution disrupts favorable stacking interactions with the neighboring catalytic His57. This indirect mechanism of resistance threatens to cause multi-PI failure as all HCV PIs in clinical development rely on interactions with the catalytic triad.
Project description:Grazoprevir is a potent pan-genotype and macrocyclic inhibitor of hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS3/4A protease and was developed for treating chronic HCV infection. In HCV genotype (GT) 1a, grazoprevir maintains potent activity against a majority of NS3 resistance-associated amino acid substitutions, including the highly prevalent and naturally occurring Q80K polymorphism that impacts simeprevir, another NS3/4A protease inhibitor. The basis for an unexpected difference in the clinical impact of some NS3 substitutions was investigated. Phenotypic analysis of resistance-associated substitutions identified in NS3 from GT1a-infected patients who failed therapy with grazoprevir (in combination with elbasvir, an inhibitor of HCV NS5A protein) showed that positions 56, 156, and 168 in NS3 were most impactful because they diminished protein-inhibitor interactions. Although an amino acid substitution from aspartic acid to alanine at position 168 (D168A) reduced the potency of grazoprevir, its combination with R155K unexpectedly nullified this effect. Molecular dynamics and free-energy surface studies indicated that Asp-168 is important in anchoring Arg-155 for ligand binding but is not critical for Lys-155 because of the inherent flexibility of its side chain. Moreover, modeling studies supported a strong direct cation-heterocycle interaction between the Lys-155 side chain of the double substitution, R155K/D168A, and the lone pair on the quinoxaline in grazoprevir. This unique interaction provides a structural basis for grazoprevir's higher potency than simeprevir, an inhibitor to which the double substitution confers a significant reduction in potency. Our findings are consistent with the detection of R155K/D168A in NS3 from virologic failures treated with simeprevir but not grazoprevir.
Project description:Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects over 170 million people worldwide and is the leading cause of chronic liver diseases, including cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. Available antiviral therapies cause severe side effects and are effective only for a subset of patients, though treatment outcomes have recently been improved by the combination therapy now including boceprevir and telaprevir, which inhibit the viral NS3/4A protease. Despite extensive efforts to develop more potent next-generation protease inhibitors, however, the long-term efficacy of this drug class is challenged by the rapid emergence of resistance. Single-site mutations at protease residues R155, A156 and D168 confer resistance to nearly all inhibitors in clinical development. Thus, developing the next-generation of drugs that retain activity against a broader spectrum of resistant viral variants requires a comprehensive understanding of the molecular basis of drug resistance. In this study, 16 high-resolution crystal structures of four representative protease inhibitors--telaprevir, danoprevir, vaniprevir and MK-5172--in complex with the wild-type protease and three major drug-resistant variants R155K, A156T and D168A, reveal unique molecular underpinnings of resistance to each drug. The drugs exhibit differential susceptibilities to these protease variants in both enzymatic and antiviral assays. Telaprevir, danoprevir and vaniprevir interact directly with sites that confer resistance upon mutation, while MK-5172 interacts in a unique conformation with the catalytic triad. This novel mode of MK-5172 binding explains its retained potency against two multi-drug-resistant variants, R155K and D168A. These findings define the molecular basis of HCV N3/4A protease inhibitor resistance and provide potential strategies for designing robust therapies against this rapidly evolving virus.
Project description:Current combination therapy of PEG-INF and ribavirin against the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) genotype-1 infections is ineffective in maintaining sustained viral response in 50% of the infection cases. New compounds in the form of protease inhibitors can complement the combination therapy. Asunaprevir is new to the drug regiment as the NS3-4A protease inhibitor, but it is susceptible to two mutations, namely, R155K and D168A in the protein. Thus, in our study, we sought to evaluate Andrographolide, a labdane-diterpenoid from the Andrographis paniculata plant as an effective compound for inhibiting the NS3-4A protease as well as its concomitant drug-resistant mutants by using molecular docking and dynamic simulations. Our study shows that Andrographolide has best docking scores of -15.0862, -15.2322, and -13.9072 compared to those of Asunaprevir -3.7159, -2.6431, and -5.4149 with wild-type R155K and D168A mutants, respectively. Also, as shown in the MD simulations, the compound was good in binding the target proteins and maintains strong bonds causing very less to negligible perturbation in the protein backbone structures. Our results validate the susceptibility of Asunaprevir to protein variants as seen from our docking studies and trajectory period analysis. Therefore, from our study, we hope to add one more option in the drug regiment to tackle drug resistance in HCV infections.
Project description:Asunaprevir (ASV; BMS-650032) is a hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS3 protease inhibitor that has demonstrated efficacy in patients chronically infected with HCV genotype 1 when combined with alfa interferon and/or the NS5A replication complex inhibitor daclatasvir. ASV competitively binds to the NS3/4A protease complex, with K(i) values of 0.4 and 0.24 nM against recombinant enzymes representing genotypes 1a (H77) and 1b (J4L6S), respectively. Selectivity was demonstrated by the absence of any significant activity against the closely related GB virus-B NS3 protease and a panel of human serine or cysteine proteases. In cell culture, ASV inhibited replication of HCV replicons representing genotypes 1 and 4, with 50% effective concentrations (EC(50)s) ranging from 1 to 4 nM, and had weaker activity against genotypes 2 and 3 (EC(50), 67 to 1,162 nM). Selectivity was again demonstrated by the absence of activity (EC(50), >12 ?M) against a panel of other RNA viruses. ASV exhibited additive or synergistic activity in combination studies with alfa interferon, ribavirin, and/or inhibitors specifically targeting NS5A or NS5B. Plasma and tissue exposures in vivo in several animal species indicated that ASV displayed a hepatotropic disposition (liver-to-plasma ratios ranging from 40- to 359-fold across species). Twenty-four hours postdose, liver exposures across all species tested were ?110-fold above the inhibitor EC(50)s observed with HCV genotype-1 replicons. Based on these virologic and exposure properties, ASV holds promise for future utility in a combination with other anti-HCV agents in the treatment of HCV-infected patients.
Project description:Simeprevir is a novel NS3/4A protease inhibitor (PI) of hepatitis C virus (HCV). The baseline polymorphism NS3-Q80K is frequently observed in genotype (GT) 1a HCV and often associated with treatment failure in simeprevir-containing regimens. We aimed to elucidate mechanisms of treatment failure due to NS3-Q80K. We included a Q80R mutation in our study and generated a series of Huh-7.5 cell lines, each of which harbored either wild-type GT 1a strain H77S.3 or the Q80K or Q80R variant. The cells were cultured with increasing concentrations of simeprevir, and NS3 domain sequences were determined. The mutations identified by sequence analyses were subsequently introduced into H77S.3. The sensitivity of each mutant to the NS3/4A PIs simeprevir, asunaprevir, grazoprevir, and paritaprevir was analyzed. We introduced the mutations into GT 1b strain N.2 and compared the sensitivity to simeprevir with that of GT 1a strain H77S.3. While simeprevir treatment selected mutations at residue D168, such as D168A/V in the wild-type virus, an additional mutation at residue R155, R155K, was selected in Q80K/R variants at simeprevir concentrations of <2.5 ?M. Sensitivity analyses showed that simeprevir concentrations of <1 ?M significantly boosted the replication of Q80K/R R155K variants. Interestingly, this boost was not observed with the other NS3/4A PIs or in Q80R R155Q/G/T/W variants or GT 1b isolates. The boosted replication of the Q80K+R155K variant by simeprevir could be related to treatment failure in simeprevir-containing antiviral treatments in GT 1a HCV-infected patients with the NS3-Q80K polymorphism. This result provides new insight into how resistance-associated variants can cause treatment failure.