Conserved interactions required for inhibition of the main protease of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

Alina Shitrit, Daniel Zaidman, Ori Kalid, Itai Bloch, Dvir Doron, Tali Yarnizky, Idit Buch, Idan Segev, Efrat Ben-Zeev, Elad Segev, Oren Kobiler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 requires a fast development of antiviral drugs. SARS-CoV-2 viral main protease (Mpro, also called 3C‐like protease, 3CLpro) is a potential target for drug design. Crystal and co-crystal structures of the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro have been solved, enabling the rational design of inhibitory compounds. In this study we analyzed the available SARS-CoV-2 and the highly similar SARS-CoV-1 crystal structures. We identified within the active site of the Mpro, in addition to the inhibitory ligands’ interaction with the catalytic C145, two key H-bond interactions with the conserved H163 and E166 residues. Both H-bond interactions are present in almost all co-crystals and are likely to occur also during the viral polypeptide cleavage process as suggested from docking of the Mpro cleavage recognition sequence. We screened in silico a library of 6900 FDA-approved drugs (ChEMBL) and filtered using these key interactions and selected 29 non-covalent compounds predicted to bind to the protease. Additional screen, using DOCKovalent was carried out on DrugBank library (11,414 experimental and approved drugs) and resulted in 6 covalent compounds. The selected compounds from both screens were tested in vitro by a protease activity inhibition assay. Two compounds showed activity at the 50 µM concentration range. Our analysis and findings can facilitate and focus the development of highly potent inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20808
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

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