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Selective Neutral pH Inhibitor of Cathepsin B Designed Based on Cleavage Preferences at Cytosolic and Lysosomal pH Conditions
ACS Chemical Biology  (IF5.1),  Pub Date : 2021-08-20, DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.1c00138
Michael C. Yoon, Angelo Solania, Zhenze Jiang, Mitchell P. Christy, Sonia Podvin, Charles Mosier, Christopher B. Lietz, Gen Ito, William H. Gerwick, Dennis W. Wolan, Gregory Hook, Anthony J. O’Donoghue, Vivian Hook

Cathepsin B is a cysteine protease that normally functions within acidic lysosomes for protein degradation, but in numerous human diseases, cathepsin B translocates to the cytosol having neutral pH where the enzyme activates inflammation and cell death. Cathepsin B is active at both the neutral pH 7.2 of the cytosol and the acidic pH 4.6 within lysosomes. We evaluated the hypothesis that cathepsin B may possess pH-dependent cleavage preferences that can be utilized for design of a selective neutral pH inhibitor by (1) analysis of differential cathepsin B cleavage profiles at neutral pH compared to acidic pH using multiplex substrate profiling by mass spectrometry (MSP-MS), (2) design of pH-selective peptide–7-amino-4-methylcoumarin (AMC) substrates, and (3) design and validation of Z-Arg-Lys-acyloxymethyl ketone (AOMK) as a selective neutral pH inhibitor. Cathepsin B displayed preferences for cleaving peptides with Arg in the P2 position at pH 7.2 and Glu in the P2 position at pH 4.6, represented by its primary dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase and modest endopeptidase activity. These properties led to design of the substrate Z-Arg-Lys–AMC having neutral pH selectivity, and its modification with the AOMK warhead to result in the inhibitor Z-Arg-Lys–AOMK. This irreversible inhibitor displays nanomolar potency with 100-fold selectivity for inhibition of cathepsin B at pH 7.2 compared to pH 4.6, shows specificity for cathepsin B over other cysteine cathepsins, and is cell permeable and inhibits intracellular cathepsin B. These findings demonstrate that cathepsin B possesses pH-dependent cleavage properties that can lead to development of a potent, neutral pH inhibitor of this enzyme.