Warning: This is a preliminary report that has not been peer-reviewed. It should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or be reported in news media as established information.

N-Terminal finger stabilizes the reversible feline drug GC376 in SARS-CoV-2 Mpro (Preliminary Report)

The main protease (Mpro, also known as 3CL protease) of SARS-CoV-2 is a high priority drug target in the development of antivirals to combat COVID-19 infections. A feline coronavirus antiviral drug, GC376, has been shown to be effective in inhibiting the SARS-CoV-2 main protease and live virus growth. As this ...
drug moves into clinical trials, further characterization of GC376 with the main protease of coronaviruses is required to gain insight into the drugs properties, such as reversibility and broad specificity. Reversibility is an important factor for therapeutic proteolytic inhibitors to prevent toxicity due to off-target effects. Here we demonstrate that GC376 has nanomolar Ki values with the Mpro from both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV strains. Restoring enzymatic activity after inhibition by GC376 demonstrates reversible binding with both proteases. In addition, the stability and thermodynamic parameters of both proteases were studied to shed light on physical chemical properties of these viral enzymes, revealing higher stability for SARS-CoV-2 Mpro. The comparison of a new X-ray crystal structure of Mpro from SARS-CoV complexed with GC376 reveals similar molecular mechanism of inhibition compared to SARS-CoV-2 Mpro, and gives insight into the broad specificity properties of this drug. In both structures, we observe domain swapping of the N-termini in the dimer of the Mpro, which facilitates coordination of the drugs P1 position. These results validate that GC376 is a drug with an off-rate suitable for clinical trials.
Date: Feb. 16, 2021
Status: Preliminary Report