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Identification of highly effective inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2 main protease: From virtual screening to in vitro study

Affiliation
Department of Pharmacy ,The First People’s Hospital of Chongqing Liang Jiang New Area ,Chongqing ,China
Wang, Hu;
Affiliation
Department of Pharmacy ,The First People’s Hospital of Chongqing Liang Jiang New Area ,Chongqing ,China
Wen, Jun;
Affiliation
Department of Pharmacy ,The First People’s Hospital of Chongqing Liang Jiang New Area ,Chongqing ,China
Yang, Yang;
Affiliation
Department of Pharmacy ,The First People’s Hospital of Chongqing Liang Jiang New Area ,Chongqing ,China
Liu, Hailin;
Affiliation
Department of Pharmacy ,The First People’s Hospital of Chongqing Liang Jiang New Area ,Chongqing ,China
Wang, Song;
Affiliation
Department of Pharmacy ,The First People’s Hospital of Chongqing Liang Jiang New Area ,Chongqing ,China
Ding, Xiaoli;
Affiliation
Department of Pharmacy ,The First People’s Hospital of Chongqing Liang Jiang New Area ,Chongqing ,China
Zhou, Chunqiao;
Affiliation
Department of Pharmacy ,The First People’s Hospital of Chongqing Liang Jiang New Area ,Chongqing ,China
Zhang, Xuelin

Background and Objective: The public’s safety has been significantly jeopardized by the pandemic of COVID-19, which is brought on by the highly virulent and contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus. Finding novel antiviral drugs is currently of utmost importance for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. Main protease (3CL pro ) of SARS-CoV-2 is involved in replication of virus, so it is considered as a promising target. Using small molecules to inhibit SARS-CoV-2-3CL pro activity may be an effective way to prevent viral replication to fight COVID-19. Despite the fact that some SARS-CoV-2-3CL pro inhibitors have been described, only few of them have high levels of inhibition at nanomolar concentrations. In this study, we aimed to screen out effective SARS-CoV-2-3CL pro inhibitors. Methods: To identify highly effective SARS-CoV-2-3CL pro inhibitors, a pharmacophore mapping and multiple-conformation docking were efficiently applied to find novel hit compounds from a database. Then, the stability of the 3CL pro -hit complexes was validated by using molecular dynamics simulation. Finally, biological assay was used to assess the inhibition effects of hit compounds on SARS-CoV-2-3CL pro . Results: Four hit compounds were identified by using computer-assisted strategy. Molecular dynamics simulation suggested that these hits bound stably to the 3CL pro -active pocket. Bioassay showed that all the hits had potent inhibition against SARS-CoV-2-3CL pro with IC 50 values in the range of 0.017–0.83 μM. Particularly, hit one was the best 3CL pro inhibitor and its inhibition effect of SARS-CoV-2-3CL pro (IC 50 = 0.017 ± 0.003 µM) was about 236 times stronger than that of ML300 (IC 50 = 4.01 ± 0.66 µM). Conclusion: These data indicate that hit one could be regarded as an anti-SARS-CoV-2 candidate worth exploring further for the treatment of COVID-19.

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License Holder: Copyright © 2022 Wang, Wen, Yang, Liu, Wang, Ding, Zhou and Zhang.

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