Targeting the NTPase Site of Zika Virus NS3 Helicase for Inhibitor Discovery

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NS3 helicase, molecular docking, MD simulations, NTPase, Zika virus

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The major threats linked to Zika virus (ZIKV) are microcephaly, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and the ability to transfer through sexual transmission. Despite these threats, Zika specific FDA approved drugs or vaccines are not available as of yet. Additionally, the involvement of pregnant women makes the drug screening process lengthy and complicated in terms of safety and minimum toxicity of the molecules. Since NS3 helicase of ZIKV performs the critical function of unwinding double-stranded RNA during replication, it is considered as a promising drug target to block ZIKV replication. In the present study, we have exploited the NTPase site of ZIKV NS3 helicase for screening potential inhibitor compounds by molecular docking, and molecular dynamics (MD) simulation approaches. NS3 helicase hydrolyzes the ATP to use its energy for unwinding RNA. We have chosen twenty natural compounds from ZINC library with known antiviral properties and a helicase focused library (HFL) of small molecules from Life Chemicals compounds. After going through docking, the top hit molecules from ZINC and HFL library were further analysed by MD simulations to find out stable binding poses. Finally, we have reported the molecules with potential of binding at NTPase pocket of ZIKV NS3 helicase, which could be further tested on virus through in vitro experiments to check their efficacy. Communicated by Ramaswamy H. Sarma

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Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, v. 38, issue 16, p. 4827-4837