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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Apr 7;1672(1):51-9.

Structure-activity relationships for the selectivity of hepatitis C virus NS3 protease inhibitors.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Uppsala University, BMC, Box 576, SE-751 23 Uppsala, Sweden.


The selectivity of hepatitis C virus (HCV) non-structural protein 3 (NS3) protease inhibitors was determined by evaluating their inhibitory effect on other serine proteases (human leukocyte elastase (HLE), porcine pancreatic elastase (PPE), bovine pancreatic chymotrypsin (BPC)) and a cysteine protease (cathepsin B). For these peptide inhibitors, the P1-side chain and the C-terminal group were the major determinants of selectivity. Inhibitors with electrophilic C-terminal residues were generally non-selective while compounds with non-electrophilic C-terminal residues were more selective. Furthermore, compounds with P1 aminobutyric acid residues were non-selective, while 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACPC) and norvaline-based inhibitors were generally selective. The most potent and selective inhibitors of NS3 protease tested contained a non-electrophilic phenyl acyl sulfonamide C-terminal residue. HLE was most likely to be inhibited by the HCV protease inhibitors, in agreement with similar substrate specificities for these enzymes. The identified structure-activity relationships for selectivity are of significance for design of selective HCV NS3 protease inhibitors.

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