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

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Received date: 2nd September 2020

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 6,900 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 50µM concentration range. Our analysis and findings can facilitate and focus the development of highly potent inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Read in full at bioRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on a preprint server, which is currently undergoing peer review at Scientific Reports. The findings have yet to be thoroughly evaluated, nor has a decision on ultimate publication been made. Therefore, the results reported should not be considered conclusive, and these findings should not be used to inform clinical practice, or public health policy, or be promoted as verified information.

Scientific Reports

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