[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While new direct-acting antiviral agents for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection have been approved, there is a continued need for novel antiviral agents that act on new targets and can be used in combination with current therapies to enhance efficacy and to restrict emergence of drug resistant viral variants. To this end, we have identified a novel class of small molecules, exemplified by PTC725, that target the nonstructural protein 4B (NS4B). PTC725 inhibited HCV 1b (Con 1) replicon with an EC50 of 1.7 nM and an EC90 of 9.6 nM and demonstrated a >1000-fold selectivity window with respect to cytotoxicity. The compounds were fully active against HCV replicon mutants that are resistant to inhibitors of NS3 protease and NS5B polymerase. Replicons selected for resistance to PTC725 harbored amino acid substitutions F98L/C and V105M in NS4B. Anti-replicon activity of PTC725 was additive to synergistic in combination with alpha interferon or with inhibitors of HCV protease and polymerase. Immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrated that neither the HCV inhibitors nor the F98C substitution altered the subcellular localization of NS4B or NS5A in replicon cells. Oral dosing of PTC725 showed a favorable pharmacokinetic profile with high liver and plasma exposure in mice and rats. Modeling of dosing regimens in humans indicates that a once-per-day or twice-per-day oral dosing regimen is feasible. Overall, the preclinical data support the development of PTC725 for use in the treatment of chronic HCV infection.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 04/2013; · 4.57 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Current assays for the activity of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRps) are inherently end-point measurements, often requiring the use of radiolabeled or chemically modified nucleotides to detect reaction products. In an effort to improve the characterization of polymerases that are essential to the life cycle of RNA viruses and develop antiviral therapies that target these enzymes, a continuous nonradioactive assay was developed to monitor the activity of RdRps by measuring the release of pyrophosphate (PP(i)) generated during nascent strand synthesis. A coupled-enzyme assay method based on the chemiluminescent detection of PP(i), using ATP sulfurylase and firefly luciferase, was adapted to monitor poliovirus 3D polymerase (3D(pol)) and the hepatitis C virus nonstructural protein 5B (NS5B) RdRp reactions. Light production was dependent on RdRp and sensitive to the concentration of oligonucleotide primer directing RNA synthesis. The assay system was found to be amenable to sensitive kinetic studies of RdRps, requiring only 6nM 3D(pol) to obtain a reliable estimate of the initial velocity in as little as 4 min. The assay can immediately accommodate the use of both homopolymer and heteropolymer RNA templates lacking uridylates and can be adapted to RNA templates containing uridine by substituting alpha-thio ATP for ATP. The low background signal produced by other NTPs can be corrected from no enzyme (RdRp) controls. The effect of RdRp/RNA template preincubation was assessed using NS5B and a homopolymer RNA template and a time-dependent increase of RdRp activity was observed. Progress curves for a chain terminator (3(')-deoxyguanosine 5(')-triphosphate) and an allosteric NS5B inhibitor demonstrated the predicted time- and dose-dependent reductions in signal. This assay should facilitate detailed kinetic studies of RdRps and their potential inhibitors using either standard or single-nucleotide approaches.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inspection of over 250 hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome sequences shows that a threonine is strictly conserved at the P1 position in the NS3-NS4A (NS3-4A) autoproteolysis junction, while a cysteine is maintained as the P1 residue in all of the putative trans cleavage sites (NS4A-4B, NS4B-5A, and NS5A-5B). To understand why T631 is conserved at the NS3-4A junction of HCV, a series of in vitro transcription-translation studies were carried out using wild-type and mutant (T631C) NS3-4A constructs bearing native, truncated, and mutant NS4A segments. The autocleavage of the wild-type junction was found to be dependent on the presence of the central cofactor domain of NS4A (residues 21 to 34). In contrast, all NS3-4A T631C mutant proteins underwent self-cleavage even in the absence of the cofactor. Subgenomic replicons derived from the Con1 strain of HCV and bearing the T631C mutation showed reduced levels of colony formation in transfection studies. Similarly, replicons derived from a second genotype 1b virus, HCV-N, demonstrated a comparable reduction in replication efficiency in transient-transfection assays. These data suggest that the threonine is conserved at position 631 because it serves two functions: (i) to slow processing at the NS3-4A cleavage site, ensuring proper intercalation of the NS4A cofactor with NS3 prior to polyprotein scission, and (ii) to prevent subsequent product inhibition by the NS3 C terminus.
Journal of Virology 02/2004; 78(2):700-9. · 4.65 Impact Factor