Applications of Mass Spectrometry to Membrane Protein Drug Development, to address urgent work on COVID-19

  • Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Total publications:61 publications

Grant number: MR/N020413/1

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Key facts

  • Disease

  • Start & end year

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    United Kingdom, Europe
  • Lead Research Institution

    University of Oxford
  • Research Category

    Therapeutics research, development and implementation

  • Research Subcategory

    Pre-clinical studies

  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details


  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group

    Not Applicable

  • Vulnerable Population

    Not applicable

  • Occupations of Interest

    Not applicable


Impact/national response: our aim is to accelerate effective drug development and provide critical data rapidly for continued research. We will determine novel chemical matter for further development, identify existing drugs for repurposing and highlight off-target drug binding Urgency: The type of data we are able to generate is needed now to feed into drug discovery programmes; it cannot be obtained through other experimental platforms in the same timescale (6 months)Our approach: we will probe associations in viral assembly and cellular entry pathways using our bespoke massspectrometry (MS) platform (Nature Methods in press). We will monitor the oligomeric status of proteins their ligand binding capacity and PTM status within individual experiments.Objective 1: inhibit Mpro through disruption of the monomer dimer interface.Mpro, a key CoV enzyme, mediates viral replication and transcription. Mpro shares considerable homology withMERS-CoV Mpro which showed substrate-induced dimerization with proteolytic activity. We have proof-ofconceptdata that show the monomer-dimer equilibrium enabling us to screen to disrupt dimer interactionsusing our unique MS platform.Objective 2: understand antigen processing and interactionsPrevious SARS-CoV infections suggest that glycosylation of a specific residue abrogates S protein binding implyingthat interfering with glycosylation could impede recognition. We will investigate how S protein glycans affectassociations with ACE2 to inform design of glycoprotein processing inhibitors.Objective 3: characterise the oligomeric states and binding sites of ACE2The SLC B0AT1 supports dimerization of ACE2. How do lipids, proteases (TMPRSS2) and other small moleculesregulate its activity? We will apply MS-based methods, optimized to study membrane proteins, protein-protein,and protein-ligand interactions to this complex.Feasibility/Critical mass: All proteins are available immediately through collaboration with the SGC Oxford. Wealso have unique chemical libraries that can be deployed for this project as well as bespoke instrumentation. Ourdepartment is open for COVID-19 work only. I have secured permission for access and have engaged a dedicatedteam of highly experienced researchers.Accessibility: High-throughput screens using X-ray structures are ongoing in Oxford and feed into the COVID-19Therapeutics Accelerator Consortium. We will communicate all our findings immediately to this, and other localand national initiatives, including national repositories where they can be accessed immediately. Wherepertinent, these (and other) findings will also be communicated to decision makers through my role as Presidentof the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Publicationslinked via Europe PMC

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Structural basis of DNA packaging by a ring-type ATPase from an archetypal viral system.

Studies on enmetazobactam clarify mechanisms of widely used β-lactamase inhibitors.

The Effects of Sodium Ions on Ligand Binding and Conformational States of G Protein-Coupled Receptors-Insights from Mass Spectrometry.

Acyl carrier protein promotes MukBEF action in Escherichia coli chromosome organization-segregation.

Toxin import through the antibiotic efflux channel TolC.

Native Mass Spectrometry Meets Glycomics: Resolving Structural Detail and Occupancy of Glycans on Intact Glycoproteins.

Architecture of cell-cell junctions in situ reveals a mechanism for bacterial biofilm inhibition.

NaViA: a program for the visual analysis of complex mass spectra.

Multiple Roles of SARS-CoV-2 N Protein Facilitated by Proteoform-Specific Interactions with RNA, Host Proteins, and Convalescent Antibodies.