- Cyclic Thiosulfonates for Thiol-Mediated Uptake: Cascade Exchangers, Transporters, Inhibitors
Kato, T.; Lim, B.; Cheng, Y.; Pham, A.-T.; Maynard, J.; Moreau, D.; Poblador-Bahamonde, A. I.; Sakai, N.; Matile, S.
JACS Au 2022, 2, 839-852
Thiol-mediated uptake is emerging as a powerful method to penetrate cells. Cyclic oligochalcogenides (COCs) have been identified as privileged scaffolds to enable and inhibit thiol-mediated uptake because they can act as dynamic covalent cascade exchangers, i.e., every exchange produces a new, covalently tethered exchanger. In this study, our focus is on the essentially unexplored COCs of higher oxidation levels. Quantitative characterization of the underlying dynamic covalent exchange cascades reveals that the initial ring opening of cyclic thiosulfonates (CTOs) proceeds at a high speed even at a low pH. The released sulfinates exchange with disulfides in aprotic but much less in protic environments. Hydrophobic domains were thus introduced to direct CTOs into hydrophobic pockets to enhance their reactivity. Equipped with such directing groups, fluorescently labeled CTOs entered the cytosol of living cells more efficiently than the popular asparagusic acid. Added as competitive agents, CTOs inhibit the uptake of various COC transporters and SARS-CoV-2 lentivectors. Orthogonal trends found with different transporters support the existence of multiple cellular partners to account for the diverse expressions of thiol-mediated uptake. Dominant self-inhibition and high activity of dimers imply selective and synergistic exchange in hydrophobic pockets as distinguishing characteristics of thiol-mediated uptake with CTOs. The best CTO dimers with hydrophobic directing groups inhibit the cellular entry of SARS-CoV-2 lentivectors with an IC50 significantly lower than the previous best CTO, below the 10 μM threshold and better than ebselen. Taken together, these results identify CTOs as an intriguing motif for use in cytosolic delivery, as inhibitors of lentivector entry, and for the evolution of dynamic covalent networks in the broadest sense, with reactivity-based selectivity of cascade exchange emerging as a distinguishing characteristic that deserves further attention.
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