Hepatitis C Virus NS3/4A Protease Inhibitors Incorporating Flexible P2 Quinoxalines Target Drug Resistant Viral Variants.
ABSTRACT: 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: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:Recent advances in direct-acting antivirals against Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) have led to the development of potent inhibitors, including MK-5172, that target the viral NS3/4A protease with relatively low susceptibility to resistance. MK-5172 has a P2-P4 macrocycle and a unique binding mode among current protease inhibitors where the P2 quinoxaline packs against the catalytic residues H57 and D81. However, the effect of macrocyclization on this binding mode is not clear, as is the relation between macrocyclization, thermodynamic stabilization, and susceptibility to the resistance mutation A156T. We have determined high-resolution crystal structures of linear and P1-P3 macrocyclic analogs of MK-5172 bound to WT and A156T protease and compared these structures, their molecular dynamics, and experimental binding thermodynamics to the parent compound. We find that the "unique" binding mode of MK-5172 is conserved even when the P2-P4 macrocycle is removed or replaced with a P1-P3 macrocycle. While beneficial to decreasing the entropic penalty associated with binding, the constraint exerted by the P2-P4 macrocycle prevents efficient rearrangement to accommodate the A156T mutation, a deficit alleviated in the linear and P1-P3 analogs. Design of macrocyclic inhibitors against NS3/4A needs to achieve the best balance between exerting optimal conformational constraint for enhancing potency, fitting within the substrate envelope and allowing adaptability to be robust against resistance mutations.
Project description:We have previously reported the discovery of our P2-P4 macrocyclic HCV NS3/4a protease inhibitor MK-5172, which in combination with the NS5a inhibitor MK-8742 recently received a breakthrough therapy designation from the US FDA for treatment of chronic HCV infection. Our goal for the next generation NS3/4a inhibitor was to achieve pan-genotypic activity while retaining the pharmacokinetic profile of MK-5172. One of the areas for follow-up investigation involved replacement of the quinoxaline moiety in MK-5172 with a quinoline and studying the effect of substitution at 4-position of the quinoline. The rationale for this effort was based on molecular modeling, which indicated that such modifications would improve interactions with the S2 subsite, in particular with D79. We wish to report herein the discovery of highly potent inhibitors with pan-genotypic activity and an improved profile over MK-5172, especially against gt-3a and A156 mutants.
Project description:A new class of HCV NS3/4a protease inhibitors containing a P2 to P4 macrocyclic constraint was designed using a molecular modeling-derived strategy. Building on the profile of previous clinical compounds and exploring the P2 and linker regions of the series allowed for optimization of broad genotype and mutant enzyme potency, cellular activity, and rat liver exposure following oral dosing. These studies led to the identification of clinical candidate 15 (MK-5172), which is active against genotype 1-3 NS3/4a and clinically relevant mutant enzymes and has good plasma exposure and excellent liver exposure in multiple species.
Project description:HCV NS3/4a protease inhibitors are proven therapeutic agents against chronic hepatitis C virus infection, with boceprevir and telaprevir having recently received regulatory approval as add-on therapy to pegylated interferon/ribavirin for patients harboring genotype 1 infections. Overcoming antiviral resistance, broad genotype coverage, and a convenient dosing regimen are important attributes for future agents to be used in combinations without interferon. In this communication, we report the preclinical profile of MK-5172, a novel P2-P4 quinoxaline macrocyclic NS3/4a protease inhibitor currently in clinical development. The compound demonstrates subnanomolar activity against a broad enzyme panel encompassing major hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes as well as variants resistant to earlier protease inhibitors. In replicon selections, MK-5172 exerted high selective pressure, which yielded few resistant colonies. In both rat and dog, MK-5172 demonstrates good plasma and liver exposures, with 24-h liver levels suggestive of once-daily dosing. When administered to HCV-infected chimpanzees harboring chronic gt1a or gt1b infections, MK-5172 suppressed viral load between 4 to 5 logs at a dose of 1 mg/kg of body weight twice daily (b.i.d.) for 7 days. Based on its preclinical profile, MK-5172 is anticipated to be broadly active against multiple HCV genotypes and clinically important resistance variants and highly suited for incorporation into newer all-oral regimens.
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: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: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: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:A new class of hepatitis C NS3/4A inhibitors was identified by introducing a novel spirocyclic proline-P2 surrogate onto the P2-P4 macrocyclic core of MK-5172 (grazoprevir). The potency profile of new analogues showed excellent pan-genotypic activity for most compounds. The potency evaluation included the most difficult genotype 3a (EC50 values ?10 nM) and other key genotype 1b mutants. Molecular modeling was used to design new target compounds and rationalize our results. A synthetic approach based on the Julia-Kocienski olefination and macrolactamization to assemble the P2-P4 macrocyclic core containing the novel spirocyclic proline-P2 moiety is presented as well.