Potent small molecule inhibitors against the 3C protease of foot- and-mouth disease virus

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Kim, Yunjeong
Pool, Emma
Kim, Eunji
Dampalla, Chamandi S.
Nguyen, Harry Nhat
Johnson, David K.
Lovell, Scott
Groutas, William C.
Chang, Kyeong-Ok
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3C protease , Antiviral , Food-and-mouth disease , Protease inhibitor , Structure-activity relationships
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Kim, Y., Pool, E., Kim, E., Dampalla, C.S., Nguyen, H.N., Johnson, D.K., Lovell, S., Groutas, W.C., Chang, K.-O. Potent small molecule inhibitors against the 3C protease of foot- and-mouth disease virus. (2024). Microbiology Spectrum, 12 (4). DOI: 10.1128/spectrum.03372-23

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is one of the most devastating diseases of livestock which can cause significant economic losses, especially when introduced to FMD-free countries. FMD virus (FMDV) belongs to the family Picornaviridae and is antigenically heterogeneous with seven established serotypes. The prevailing preventive and control strategies are limited to restriction of animal movement and elimination of infected or exposed animals, which can be potentially combined with vaccination. However, FMD vaccination has limitations including delayed protection and lack of cross-protection against different serotypes. Recently, antiviral drug use for FMD outbreaks has increasingly been recognized as a potential tool to augment the existing early response strategies, but limited research has been reported on potential antiviral compounds for FMDV. FMDV 3C protease (3Cpro) cleaves the viral-encoded polyprotein into mature and functional proteins during viral replication. The essential role of viral 3Cpro in viral replication and the high conservation of 3Cpro among different FMDV serotypes make it an excellent target for antiviral drug development. We have previously reported multiple series of inhibitors against picornavirus 3Cpro or 3C-like proteases (3CLpros) encoded by coronaviruses or caliciviruses. In this study, we conducted structure-activity relationship studies for our in-house focused compound library containing 3Cpro or 3CLpro inhibitors against FMDV 3Cpro using enzyme and cell-based assays. Herein, we report the discovery of aldehyde and ?-ketoamide inhibitors of FMDV 3Cpro with high potency. These data inform future preclinical studies that are related to the advancement of these compounds further along the drug development pathway. Copyright © 2024 Kim et al.

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