CoronaVirus News

Discovery of 2-amide-3-methylester thiophenes inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 ADP-ribosyl hydrolysing macrodomain and coronavirus replication

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The COVID-19 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus has made it clear that further development of antiviral therapies will be needed to combat additional SARS-CoV-2 variants or novel CoVs. Here, we describe small molecule inhibitors for SARS-CoV-2 Mac1, which counters ADP-ribosylation mediated innate immune responses. The compounds inhibiting Mac1 were discovered through high-throughput screening (HTS) using a protein FRET-based competition assay and the best hit compound had an IC50 of 14 M. Three validated HTS hits have the same 2-amide-3-methylester thiophene scaffold and the scaffold was selected for structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies through commercial and synthesized analogs. We studied the compound binding mode in detail using X-ray crystallography and this allowed us to focus on specific features of the compound and design analogs. Compound 27 (MDOLL-0229) had an IC50 of 2.1 M and was generally selective for CoV Mac1 proteins after profiling for activity against a panel of viral and human ADP-ribose binding proteins. The improved potency allowed testing of its effect on virus replication and indeed, 27 inhibited replication of a mouse hepatitis virus, a prototype CoV. Compound 27 is the first Mac1 targeted small molecule demonstrated to inhibit coronavirus replication in a cell model. This, together with its well-defined binding mode, makes 27 a good candidate for further hit/lead-optimization efforts.