Identification of SARS-CoV-2 Surface Therapeutic Targets and Drugs Using Molecular Modeling Methods for Inhibition of the Virus Entry

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Coronavirus, Sars-cov-2, COVID-19, Spike Protein, Cefpiramide, Conivaptan, Inhibitor, Molecular Dynamic Simulation

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Although COVID-19 emerged as a major concern to public health around the world, no licensed medication has been found as of yet to efficiently stop the virus spread and treat the infection. The SARS-CoV-2 entry into the host cell is driven by the direct interaction of the S1 domain with the ACE-2 receptor followed by conformational changes in the S2 domain, as a result of which fusion peptide is inserted into the target cell membrane, and the fusion process is mediated by the specific interactions between the heptad repeats 1 and 2 (HR1 and HR2) that form the six-helical bundle. Since blocking this interaction between HRs stops virus fusion and prevents its subsequent replication, the HRs inhibitors can be used as anti-COVID drugs. The initial drug selection is based on existing molecular databases to screen for molecules that may have a therapeutic effect on coronavirus. Based on these premises, we chose two approved drugs to investigate their interactions with the HRs (based on docking methods). To this end, molecular dynamics simulations and molecular docking were carried out to investigate the changes in the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Our results revealed, cefpiramide has the highest affinity to S protein, thereby revealing its potential to become an anti-COVID-19 clinical medicine. Therefore, this study offers new ways to re-use existing drugs to combat SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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Journal of Molecular Structure, v. 1256, art. 132488