Design, synthesis, and evaluation of cysteine protease inhibitors
Bridges, Sylvia Shadinger
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Proteases are enzymes that cleave protein amide bonds. Proteases are involved in a myriad of biological processes and are considered good targets for drug design. The proteases described herein are cysteine proteases, which utilize a cysteine residue thiol to attack the amide carbonyl, leading to amide bond cleavage. Irreversible inhibitors of cysteine proteases react with the active site cysteine, forming a covalent bond and rendering the enzyme inactive. The first project involved the design and synthesis of aza-peptide epoxide inhibitors for calpain, a clan CA, ubiquitous, calcium-activated human enzyme involved in neurodegeneration. These inhibitors proved to be poor inactivators of calpain, demonstrating that the aza-peptide epoxide is a warhead specific to clan CD cysteine proteases (caspases, gingipains). Subsequently, a known epoxide inhibitor of calpain was optimized to create a more potent inhibitor. Several of these inhibitors were more potent than the parent, and all were demonstrated to inhibit calpain in a breast cancer cell line which was treated with paclitaxel to spike calpain activity. The second project involved the design and solid phase synthesis of aza-peptide Michael acceptor caspases inhibitors. The two goals of this project were to develop a solid phase method for synthesis of inhibitors that are tedious to synthesize in solution phase, and to use a variety of amino acid residues to determine the optimal interactions in the P3? position for various caspases. The synthesis was successful, and the optimal P3? residues were determined. The third project involved the kinetic evaluation of aza-peptide epoxide and Michael acceptor inhibitor designed for the gingipains. Gingipains K and R are virulence factors in the pathology of Porphyromonas gingivalis involved in gingivitis and periodontal disease. These inhibitors proved to be extremely potent inactivators of gingipains, with some of the highest rates of inhibition measured in the Powers laboratory. Gingipain K preferred larger, aromatic moieties in the P1? position, while gingipain R preferred the Michael acceptor inhibitors, with the P1? substituent having less of an impact on potency.