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A highly sensitive cell-based luciferase assay for high-throughput automated screening of SARS-CoV-2 nsp5/3CLpro inhibitors

Abstract : Effective drugs against SARS-CoV-2 are urgently needed to treat severe cases of infection and for prophylactic use. The main viral protease (nsp5 or 3CLpro) represents an attractive and possibly broad-spectrum target for drug development as it is essential to the virus life cycle and highly conserved among betacoronaviruses. Sensitive and efficient high-throughput screening methods are key for drug discovery. Here we report the development of a gain-of-signal, highly sensitive cell-based luciferase assay to monitor SARS-CoV-2 nsp5 activity and show that it is suitable for the screening of compounds in a 384-well format. A benefit of miniaturisation and automation is that screening can be performed in parallel on a wild-type and a catalytically inactive nsp5, which improves the selectivity of the assay. We performed molecular docking-based screening on a set of 14,468 compounds from an in-house chemical database, selected 359 candidate nsp5 inhibitors and tested them experimentally. We identified two molecules which show anti-nsp5 activity, both in our cell-based assay and in vitro on purified nsp5 protein, and inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication in A549-ACE2 cells with EC50 values in the 4–8 μM range. The here described high-throughput-compatible assay will allow the screening of large-scale compound libraries for SARS-CoV-2 nsp5 inhibitors. Moreover, we provide evidence that this assay can be adapted to other coronaviruses and viruses which rely on a viral protease.
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https://hal-pasteur.archives-ouvertes.fr/pasteur-03840856
Contributor : Nadia Naffakh Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Sunday, November 6, 2022 - 11:26:55 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, November 24, 2022 - 2:16:03 PM

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Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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K.Y. Chen, T. Krischuns, L. Ortega Varga, E. Harigua-Souiai, S. Paisant, et al.. A highly sensitive cell-based luciferase assay for high-throughput automated screening of SARS-CoV-2 nsp5/3CLpro inhibitors. Antiviral Research, 2022, 201, pp.105272. ⟨10.1016/j.antiviral.2022.105272⟩. ⟨pasteur-03840856⟩

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