Coronavirus Inhibitors Targeting nsp16
During the past three decades, humans have been confronted with different new coronavirus outbreaks. Since the end of the year 2019, COVID-19 threatens the world as a rapidly spreading infectious disease. For this work, we targeted the non-structural protein 16 (nsp16) as a key protein of SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV to develop broad-spectrum inhibitors of nsp16. Computational methods were used to filter candidates from a natural product-based library of 224,205 compounds obtained from the ZINC database. The binding of the candidates to nsp16 was assessed using virtual screening with VINA LC, and molecular docking with AutoDock 4.2.6. The top 9 compounds were bound to the nsp16 protein of SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1, and MERS-CoV with the lowest binding energies (LBEs) in the range of −9.0 to −13.0 kcal with VINA LC. The AutoDock-based LBEs for nsp16 of SARS-CoV-2 ranged from −11.42 to −16.11 kcal/mol with predicted inhibition constants (pKi) from 0.002 to 4.51 nM, the natural substrate S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) was used as control. In silico results were verified by microscale thermophoresis as in vitro assay. The candidates were investigated further for their cytotoxicity in normal MRC-5 lung fibroblasts to determine their therapeutic indices. Here, the IC 50 values of all three compounds were >10 µM. In summary, we identified three novel SARS-CoV-2 inhibitors, two of which showed broad-spectrum activity to nsp16 in SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1, and MERS-CoV. All three compounds are coumarin derivatives that contain chromen-2-one in their scaffolds.