• conformational analysis;
  • hepatitis C virus NS3 protease;
  • NMR spectroscopy;
  • protease and ligands;
  • structure-based drug design

Serine proteases are a very large class of enzymes, many of which represent important targets for therapeutic agents against a wide variety of disease states. The similarity in active site architecture for these proteases has often allowed inhibitor design strategies for a particular target to be successfully applied to other enzymes in the class. In many cases, the presence of a bulky P3 amino acid residue in peptide-based inhibitors is central to conferring an extended peptide conformation, critical to binding of the ligands to serine protease active sites. The dimethylthiazolidine carboxylic acid ‘residue’ was found to be effective as a novel P3 replacement in peptidomimetic inhibitors of two distinct serine proteases, the hepatitis C NS3 protease and the human cytomegalovirus maturational protease. An array of NMR methods was used to confirm that the dimethylthiazolidine carboxylic acid unit indeed confers conformational and dynamic properties very similar to that of the rigidified parent structures.