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Systematic Analyses of the Resistance Potential of Drugs Targeting SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease.

Flynn, Julia, Huang, Qui Yu, Zvornicanin, Sarah, Schneider-Nachum, Gily, Shaqra, Ala, Kurt Yilmaz, Nese, Moquin, Stephanie, Dovala, Dustin, Schiffer, Celia and Bolon, Daniel (2023) Systematic Analyses of the Resistance Potential of Drugs Targeting SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease. ACS infectious diseases, 9 (7). pp. 1372-1386. ISSN 2373-8227


Drugs that target the main protease (Mpro) of SARS-CoV-2 are effective therapeutics that have entered clinical use. Wide-scale use of these drugs will apply selection pressure for the evolution of resistance mutations. To understand resistance potential in Mpro, we performed comprehensive surveys of amino acid changes that can cause resistance to nirmatrelvir (Pfizer), and ensitrelvir (Xocova) in a yeast screen. We identified 142 resistance mutations for nirmatrelvir and 177 for ensitrelvir, many of which have not been previously reported. Ninety-nine mutations caused apparent resistance to both inhibitors, suggesting likelihood for the evolution of cross-resistance. The mutation with the strongest drug resistance score against nirmatrelvir in our study (E166V) was the most impactful resistance mutation recently reported in multiple viral passaging studies. Many mutations that exhibited inhibitor-specific resistance were consistent with the distinct interactions of each inhibitor in the substrate binding site. In addition, mutants with strong drug resistance scores tended to have reduced function. Our results indicate that strong pressure from nirmatrelvir or ensitrelvir will select for multiple distinct-resistant lineages that will include both primary resistance mutations that weaken interactions with drug while decreasing enzyme function and compensatory mutations that increase enzyme activity. The comprehensive identification of resistance mutations enables the design of inhibitors with reduced potential of developing resistance and aids in the surveillance of drug resistance in circulating viral populations.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Humans COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 Leucine Lactams Nitriles
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2023 00:45
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2023 00:45