Remdesivir (RDV) is a direct-acting antiviral agent that is approved in several countries for the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). RDV exhibits broad-spectrum antiviral activity against positive-sense RNA viruses, e.g., SARS-CoV-2 and hepatitis C virus (HCV), and non-segmented negative-sense RNA viruses, e.g., Nipah virus (NiV), while segmented negative-sense RNA viruses such as influenza (Flu) virus or Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) are not sensitive to the drug. The reasons for this apparent efficacy pattern are unknown. Here, we expressed and purified representative RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRp) and studied three biochemical parameters that have been associated with the inhibitory effects of RDV-triphosphate (TP): (i) selective incorporation of the nucleotide substrate RDV-TP, (ii) the effect of the incorporated RDV-monophosphate (MP) on primer extension, and (iii) the effect of RDV-MP in the template during incorporation of the complementary UTP. We found a strong correlation between antiviral effects and efficient incorporation of RDV-TP. Inhibition in primer extension reactions was heterogeneous and usually inefficient at higher NTP concentrations. In contrast, template-dependent inhibition of UTP incorporation opposite the embedded RDV-MP was seen with all polymerases. Molecular modeling suggests a steric conflict between the 1’-cyano group of the inhibitor and residues of the structurally conserved RdRp motif F. We conclude that future efforts in the development of nucleotide analogues with a broader spectrum of antiviral activities should focus on improving rates of incorporation while capitalizing on the inhibitory effects of a bulky 1’-modification.

Fuente: Journal of Biological Chemistry
Available online 23 December 2021, 101529