Curcumin Allosterically Inhibits the Dengue NS2B-NS3 Protease by Disrupting Its Active Conformation.
ABSTRACT: 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:BACKGROUND: The two-component NS2B-NS3 proteases of West Nile and dengue viruses are essential for viral replication and established targets for drug development. In all crystal structures of the proteases to date, the NS2B cofactor is located far from the substrate binding site (open conformation) in the absence of inhibitor and lining the substrate binding site (closed conformation) in the presence of an inhibitor. METHODS: In this work, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy of isotope and spin-labeled samples of the West Nile virus protease was used to investigate the occurrence of equilibria between open and closed conformations in solution. FINDINGS: In solution, the closed form of the West Nile virus protease is the predominant conformation irrespective of the presence or absence of inhibitors. Nonetheless, dissociation of the C-terminal part of the NS2B cofactor from the NS3 protease (open conformation) occurs in both the presence and the absence of inhibitors. Low-molecular-weight inhibitors can shift the conformational exchange equilibria so that over 90% of the West Nile virus protease molecules assume the closed conformation. The West Nile virus protease differs from the dengue virus protease, where the open conformation is the predominant form in the absence of inhibitors. CONCLUSION: Partial dissociation of NS2B from NS3 has implications for the way in which the NS3 protease can be positioned with respect to the host cell membrane when NS2B is membrane associated via N- and C-terminal segments present in the polyprotein. In the case of the West Nile virus protease, discovery of low-molecular-weight inhibitors that act by breaking the association of the NS2B cofactor with the NS3 protease is impeded by the natural affinity of the cofactor to the NS3 protease. The same strategy can be more successful in the case of the dengue virus NS2B-NS3 protease.
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: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:Recent outbreaks of Zika virus (ZIKV) highlight an urgent need for therapeutics. The protease complex NS2B-NS3 plays essential roles during flaviviral polyprotein processing, and thus represents an attractive drug target. Here, we developed a split luciferase complementation-based high-throughput screening assay to identify orthosteric inhibitors that directly target flavivirus NS2B-NS3 interactions. By screening a total of 2 816 approved and investigational drugs, we identified three potent candidates, temoporfin, niclosamide, and nitazoxanide, as flavivirus NS2B-NS3 interaction inhibitors with nanomolar potencies. Significantly, the most potent compound, temoporfin, not only inhibited ZIKV replication in human placental and neural progenitor cells, but also prevented ZIKV-induced viremia and mortality in mouse models. Structural docking suggests that temoporfin potentially binds NS3 pockets that hold critical NS2B residues, thus inhibiting flaviviral polyprotein processing in a non-competitive manner. As these drugs have already been approved for clinical use in other indications either in the USA or other countries, they represent promising and easily developed therapies for the management of infections by ZIKV and other flaviviruses.
Project description: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: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:Flaviviruses, including dengue, West Nile and recently emerged Zika virus, are important human pathogens, but there are no drugs to prevent or treat these viral infections. The highly conserved Flavivirus NS2B-NS3 protease is essential for viral replication and therefore a drug target. Compound screening followed by medicinal chemistry yielded a series of drug-like, broadly active inhibitors of Flavivirus proteases with IC50 as low as 120 nM. The inhibitor exhibited significant antiviral activities in cells (EC68: 300-600 nM) and in a mouse model of Zika virus infection. X-ray studies reveal that the inhibitors bind to an allosteric, mostly hydrophobic pocket of dengue NS3 and hold the protease in an open, catalytically inactive conformation. The inhibitors and their binding structures would be useful for rational drug development targeting Zika, dengue and other Flaviviruses.
Project description:Dengue virus (DENV) causes disease globally, with an estimated 25 to 100 million new infections per year. At present, no effective vaccine is available, and treatment is supportive. In this study, we identified BP2109, a potent and selective small-molecule inhibitor of the DENV NS2B/NS3 protease, by a high-throughput screening assay using a recombinant protease complex consisting of the central hydrophilic portion of NS2B and the N terminus of the protease domain. BP2109 inhibited DENV (serotypes 1 to 4), but not Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), replication and viral RNA synthesis without detectable cytotoxicity. The compound inhibited recombinant DENV-2 NS2B/NS3 protease with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC(50)) of 15.43 ± 2.12 ?M and reduced the reporter expression of the DENV-2 replicon with a 50% effective concentration (EC(50)) of 0.17 ± 0.01 ?M. Sequencing analyses of several individual clones derived from BP2109-resistant DENV-2 RNAs revealed that two amino acid substitutions (R55K and E80K) are found in the region of NS2B, a cofactor of the NS2B/NS3 protease complex. The introduction of R55K and E80K double mutations into the dengue virus NS2B/NS3 protease and a dengue virus replicon construct conferred 10.3- and 73.8-fold resistance to BP2109, respectively. The E80K mutation was further determined to be the key mutation conferring dengue virus replicon resistance (61.3-fold) to BP2109, whereas the R55K mutation alone did not affect resistance to BP2109. Both the R55K and E80K mutations are located in the central hydrophilic portion of the NS2B cofactor, where extensive interactions with the NS3pro domain exist. Thus, our data provide evidence that BP2109 likely inhibits DENV by a novel mechanism.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Due to dengue virus disease, half of the world population is at severe health risk. Viral encoded NS2B-NS3 protease complex causes cleavage in the nonstructural region of the viral polyprotein. The cleavage is essentially required for fully functional viral protein. It has already been reported that if function of NS2B-NS3 complex is disrupted, viral replication is inhibited. Therefore, the NS2B-NS3 is a well-characterized target for designing antiviral drug. RESULTS:In this study docking analysis was performed with active site of dengue NS2B-NS3 protein with selected plant flavonoids. More than 100 flavonoids were used for docking analysis. On the basis of docking results 10 flavonoids might be considered as the best inhibitors of NS2B-NS3 protein. The interaction studies showed resilient interactions between ligand and receptor atoms. Furthermore, QSAR and SAR studies were conducted on the basis of NS2B-NS3 protease complex docking results. The value of correlation coefficient (r) 0.95 shows that there was a good correlation between flavonoid structures and selected properties. CONCLUSION:We hereby suggest that plant flavonoids could be used as potent inhibitors of dengue NS2B-NS3 protein and can be used as antiviral agents against dengue virus. Out of more than hundred plant flavonoids, ten flavonoid structures are presented in this study. On the basis of best docking results, QSAR and SAR studies were performed. These flavonoids can directly work as anti-dengue drug or with little modifications in their structures.
Project description:Proteolytic processing of the dengue virus polyprotein is mediated by host cell proteases and the virus-encoded NS2B-NS3 two-component protease. The NS3 protease represents an attractive target for the development of antiviral inhibitors. The three-dimensional structure of the NS3 protease domain has been determined, but the structural determinants necessary for activation of the enzyme by the NS2B cofactor have been characterized only to a limited extent. To test a possible functional role of the recently proposed Phix(3)Phi motif in NS3 protease activation, we targeted six residues within the NS2B cofactor by site-specific mutagenesis. Residues Trp62, Ser71, Leu75, Ile77, Thr78, and Ile79 in NS2B were replaced with alanine, and in addition, an L75A/I79A double mutant was generated. The effects of these mutations on the activity of the NS2B(H)-NS3pro protease were analyzed in vitro by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis of autoproteolytic cleavage at the NS2B/NS3 site and by assay of the enzyme with the fluorogenic peptide substrate GRR-AMC. Compared to the wild type, the L75A, I77A, and I79A mutants demonstrated inefficient autoproteolysis, whereas in the W62A and the L75A/I79A mutants self-cleavage appeared to be almost completely abolished. With exception of the S71A mutant, which had a k(cat)/K(m) value for the GRR-AMC peptide similar to that of the wild type, all other mutants exhibited drastically reduced k(cat) values. These results indicate a pivotal function of conserved residues Trp62, Leu75, and Ile79 in the NS2B cofactor in the structural activation of the dengue virus NS3 serine protease.