Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Proton-Coupled Conformational Activation of SARS Coronavirus Main Proteases and Opportunity for Designing Small-Molecule Broad-Spectrum Targeted Covalent Inhibitors

Neha Verma, Jack A. Henderson, and Jana Shen

J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2020


The SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) main protease (Mpro) is an attractive broad-spectrum antiviral drug target. Despite the enormous progress in structure elucidation, the Mpro’s structure–function relationship remains poorly understood. Recently, a peptidomimetic inhibitor has entered clinical trial; however, small-molecule orally available antiviral drugs have yet to be developed. Intrigued by a long-standing controversy regarding the existence of an inactive state, we explored the proton-coupled dynamics of the Mpros of SARS-CoV-2 and the closely related SARS-CoV using a newly developed continuous constant pH molecular dynamics (MD) method and microsecond fixed-charge all-atom MD simulations. Our data supports a general base mechanism for Mpro’s proteolytic function. The simulations revealed that protonation of His172 alters a conserved interaction network that upholds the oxyanion loop, leading to a partial collapse of the conserved S1 pocket, consistent with the first and controversial crystal structure of SARS-CoV Mpro determined at pH 6. Interestingly, a natural flavonoid binds SARS-CoV-2 Mpro in the close proximity to a conserved cysteine (Cys44), which is hyper-reactive according to the CpHMD titration. This finding offers an exciting new opportunity for small-molecule targeted covalent inhibitor design. Our work represents a first step toward the mechanistic understanding of the proton-coupled structure–dynamics–function relationship of CoV Mpros; the proposed strategy of designing small-molecule covalent inhibitors may help accelerate the development of orally available broad-spectrum antiviral drugs to stop the current pandemic and prevent future outbreaks.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

10 years into the resurgence of covalent drugs

Elena De Vita

Future Medicinal Chemistry 2020


In the first decade of targeted covalent inhibition, scientists have successfully reversed the previous trend that had impeded the use of covalent inhibition in drug development. Successes in the clinic, mainly in the field of kinase inhibitors, are existing proof that safe covalent inhibitors can be designed and employed to develop effective treatments. The case of KRASG12C covalent inhibitors entering clinical trials in 2019 has been among the hottest topics discussed in drug discovery, raising expectations for the future of the field. In this perspective, an overview of the milestones hit with targeted covalent inhibitors, as well as the promise and the needs of current research, are presented. While recent results have confirmed the potential that was foreseen, many questions remain unexplored in this branch of precision medicine.

Thiol Reactivity of N-Aryl α-Methylene-γ-lactams: Influence of the Guaianolide Structure [@KayBrummond]

 Daniel P. Dempe, Chong-Lei Ji, Peng Liu, and Kay M. Brummond The Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acs.joc.2c01530 The α-meth...