Use of the fused NS4A peptide-NS3 protease domain to study the importance of the helicase domain for protease inhibitor binding to hepatitis C virus NS3-NS4A.
ABSTRACT The NS3 protein of hepatitis C virus is unusual because it encodes two unrelated enzymatic activities in linked protease and helicase domains. It has also been intensively studied because inhibitors targeting its protease domain have potential to significantly improve treatment options for those infected with this virus. Many enzymological studies and inhibitor discovery programs have been carried out using the isolated protease domain in complex with a peptide derived from NS4A which stimulates activity. However, some recent publications have suggested that the NS3 helicase domain may influence inhibitor binding and thus suggest work should focus on the full-length NS3-NS4A protein. Here we present the characterization of a single-chain protease in which the NS4A peptide activator is linked to the N-terminus of the NS3 protease domain. This protein behaves well in solution, and its protease activity is very similar to that of full-length NS3-NS4A. We find that this fusion protein, as well as the noncovalent complex of the NS4A peptide with NS3, gives similar Ki values, spanning 3 orders of magnitude, for a set of 25 structurally diverse inhibitors. We also show that simultaneous mutation of three residues on the surface of the helicase domain which has been hypothesized to interact with the protease does not significantly affect enzymatic activity or inhibitor binding. Thus, the protease domain with the NS4A peptide, in a covalent or noncovalent complex, is a good model for the protease activity of native NS3-NS4A.
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ABSTRACT: The nonstructural protein 3 (NS3) from the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is responsible for processing the non-structural region of the viral precursor polyprotein in infected hepatic cells. NS3 protease activity, located at the N-terminal domain, is a zinc-dependent serine protease. A zinc ion, required for the hydrolytic activity, has been considered as a structural metal ion essential for the structural integrity of the protein. In addition, NS3 interacts with another cofactor, NS4A, an accessory viral protein that induces a conformational change enhancing the hydrolytic activity. Biophysical studies on the isolated protease domain, whose behavior is similar to that of the full-length protein (e.g., catalytic activity, allosteric mechanism and susceptibility to inhibitors), suggest that a considerable global conformational change in the protein is coupled to zinc binding. Zinc binding to NS3 protease can be considered as a folding event, an extreme case of induced-fit binding. Therefore, NS3 protease is an intrinsically (partially) disordered protein with a complex conformational landscape due to its inherent plasticity and to the interaction with its different effectors. Here we summarize the results from a detailed biophysical characterization of this enzyme and present new experimental data.International Journal of Molecular Sciences 06/2013; 14(7):13282-13306. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: TGF-β signaling induces epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and plays an important role in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development. Clinical observations indicate that hepatitis C virus (HCV) chronic infection, which is a major cause of HCC, induces TGF-β signaling perturbations. Here, we investigate the mechanisms by which HCV nonstructural proteins interfere with TGF-β signaling, in human hepatoma cell lines expressing HCV subgenomic replicon. A transcriptomic study showed that TGF-β stimulation of these cells resulted in a protumoral gene expression profile and in up-regulation of EMT-related genes compared to control interferon-treated cells not expressing HCV proteins. We found that the viral protease NS3-4A interacted with SMURF2, a negative regulator of TGF-β signaling. In cells expressing HCV subgenomic replicon or NS3-4A, TGF-β stimulation induced an increased expression of SMAD-dependent genes compared to control cells. This enhanced signaling was suppressed by SMURF2 overexpression and mimicked by SMURF2 silencing. In addition, NS3-4A expression resulted in an increased and prolonged TGF-β-induced phosphorylation of SMAD2/3 that was abrogated by SMURF2 overexpression. Neither NS3-4A protease activity nor SMURF2 ubiquitin-ligase activity was required to affect TGF-β signaling. Therefore, by targeting SMURF2, NS3-4A appears to block the negative regulation of TGF-β signaling, increasing the responsiveness of cells to TGF-β. Verga-Gérard, A., Porcherot, M., Meyniel-Schicklin, L., André, P., Lotteau, V., and Perrin-Cocon, L. Hepatitis C virus/human interactome identifies SMURF2 and the viral protease as critical elements for the control of TGF-β signaling.The FASEB Journal 06/2013; · 5.70 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The nonstructural protein 3 (NS3) from the hepatitis C virus processes the non-structural region of the viral precursor polyprotein in infected hepatic cells. The NS3 protease activity has been considered a target for drug development since its identification two decades ago. Although specific inhibitors have been approved for clinical therapy very recently, resistance-associated mutations have already been reported for those drugs, compromising their long-term efficacy. Therefore, there is an urgent need for new anti-HCV agents with low susceptibility to resistance-associated mutations. Regarding NS3 protease, two strategies have been followed: competitive inhibitors blocking the active site and allosteric inhibitors blocking the binding of the accessory viral protein NS4A. In this work we exploit the intrinsic Zn(+2)-regulated plasticity of the protease to identify a new type of allosteric inhibitors. In the absence of Zn(+2), the NS3 protease adopts a partially-folded inactive conformation. We found ligands binding to the Zn(+2)-free NS3 protease, trap the inactive protein, and block the viral life cycle. The efficacy of these compounds has been confirmed in replicon cell assays. Importantly, direct calorimetric assays reveal a low impact of known resistance-associated mutations, and enzymatic assays provide a direct evidence of their inhibitory activity. They constitute new low molecular-weight scaffolds for further optimization and provide several advantages: 1) new inhibition mechanism simultaneously blocking substrate and cofactor interactions in a non-competitive fashion, appropriate for combination therapy; 2) low impact of known resistance-associated mutations; 3) inhibition of NS4A binding, thus blocking its several effects on NS3 protease.PLoS ONE 07/2013; 8(7):e69773. · 3.73 Impact Factor