Nanomolar antiviral activity against immune-evasive SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants
Figure from Jean lab paper
Jean Lab
Jimena Pérez-Vargas, Liam J. Worrall, Andrea D. Olmstead, Anh-Tien Ton, Jaeyong Lee, Ivan Villanueva, et. al., Artem Cherkasov, Natalie C. J. Strynadka, François Jean

Publication: A novel class of broad-spectrum active-site-directed 3C-like protease inhibitors with nanomolar antiviral activity against highly immune-evasive SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants


Abstract: Antivirals with broad coronavirus activity are important for treating high-risk individuals exposed to the constantly evolving SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) as well as emerging drug-resistant variants. We developed and characterized a novel class of active-site-directed 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro) inhibitors (C2–C5a). Our lead direct-acting antiviral (DAA), C5a, is a non-covalent, non-peptide with a dissociation constant of 170 nM against recombinant SARS-CoV-2 3CLpro. The compounds C2–C5a exhibit broad-spectrum activity against Omicron subvariants (BA.5, BQ.1.1, and XBB.1.5) and seasonal human coronavirus-229E infection in human cells. Notably, C5a has median effective concentrations of 30–50 nM against BQ.1.1 and XBB.1.5 in two different human cell lines. X-ray crystallography has confirmed the unique binding modes of C2–C5a to the 3CLpro, which can limit virus cross-resistance to emerging Paxlovid-resistant variants. We tested the effect of C5a with two of our newly discovered host-directed antivirals (HDAs): N-0385, a TMPRSS2 inhibitor, and bafilomycin D (BafD), a human vacuolar H+-ATPase [V-ATPase] inhibitor. We demonstrated a synergistic action of C5a in combination with N-0385 and BafD against Omicron BA.5 infection in human Calu-3 lung cells. Our findings underscore that a SARS-CoV-2 multi-targeted treatment for circulating Omicron subvariants based on DAAs (C5a) and HDAs (N-0385 or BafD) can lead to therapeutic benefits by enhancing treatment efficacy. Furthermore, the high-resolution structures of SARS-CoV-2 3CLpro in complex with C2–C5a will facilitate future rational optimization of our novel broad-spectrum active-site-directed 3C-like protease inhibitors.