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A Bioluminescent 3CLPro Activity Assay to Monitor SARS-CoV-2 Replication and Identify Inhibitors

Abstract : Our therapeutic arsenal against viruses is very limited and the current pandemic of SARS-CoV-2 highlights the critical need for effective antivirals against emerging coronaviruses. Cellular assays allowing a precise quantification of viral replication in high-throughput experimental settings are essential to the screening of chemical libraries and the selection of best antiviral chemical structures. To develop a reporting system for SARS-CoV-2 infection, we generated cell lines expressing a firefly luciferase maintained in an inactive form by a consensus cleavage site for the viral protease 3CLPro of coronaviruses, so that the luminescent biosensor is turned on upon 3CLPro expression or SARS-CoV-2 infection. This cellular assay was used to screen a metabolism-oriented library of 492 compounds to identify metabolic vulnerabilities of coronaviruses for developing innovative therapeutic strategies. In agreement with recent reports, inhibitors of pyrimidine biosynthesis were found to prevent SARS-CoV-2 replication. Among the top hits, we also identified the NADPH oxidase (NOX) inhibitor Setanaxib. The anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of Setanaxib was further confirmed using ACE2-expressing human pulmonary cells Beas2B as well as human primary nasal epithelial cells. Altogether, these results validate our cell-based functional assay and the interest of screening libraries of different origins to identify inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 for drug repurposing or development.
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Submitted on : Monday, February 21, 2022 - 3:35:43 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, September 24, 2022 - 3:10:05 PM
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Cyrille Mathieu, Franck Touret, Clémence Jacquemin, Yves Louis Janin, Antoine Nougairède, et al.. A Bioluminescent 3CLPro Activity Assay to Monitor SARS-CoV-2 Replication and Identify Inhibitors. Viruses, MDPI, 2021, 13 (9), pp.1814. ⟨10.3390/v13091814⟩. ⟨hal-03557318⟩



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