* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received November 10, 2008; Revision received April 2, 2009
It is supposed that α,γ-diketo acids (DKAs) inhibit the activity of hepatitis C virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP HCV) via chelation of catalytic magnesium ions in the active center of the enzyme. However, DKAs display noncompetitive mode of inhibition with respect to NTP substrate, which contradicts the proposed mechanism. We have examined the NTP substrate entry channel and the active site of RdRP HCV for their possible interaction with DKAs. The substitutions R48A, K51A, and R222A greatly facilitated RdRP inhibition by DKAs and simultaneously increased Km values for UTP substrate. Interestingly, C223A was the only one of a number of substitutions that decreased Km(UTP) but facilitated the inhibitory action of DKAs. The findings allowed us to model an enzyme–inhibitor complex. According to the proposed model, DKAs introduce an additional Mg2+ ion into the active site of the enzyme at a stage of phosphodiester bond formation, which results in displacement of the NTP substrate triphosphate moiety to a catalytically inactive binding mode. This mechanism, in contrast to the currently adopted one, explains the noncompetitive mode of inhibition.
KEY WORDS: hepatitis C virus, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, α,γ-diketo acid derivatives, inhibition mechanism, molecular modeling