Interface-based Design of the Favipiravir-binding Site in SARS-CoV-2 RNA-dependent RNA Polymerase Reveals Mutations Conferring Resistance to Chain Termination

Document Type


Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Favipiravir is a broad-spectrum inhibitor of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) currently being used to manage COVID-19. Accumulation of mutations in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RdRp may facilitate antigenic drift, generating favipiravir resistance. Focussing on the chain-termination mechanism utilized by favipiravir, we used high-throughput interface-based protein design to generate > 100 000 designs of the favipiravir-binding site of RdRp and identify mutational hotspots. We identified several single-point mutants and designs having a sequence identity of 97%–98% with wild-type RdRp, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 can develop favipiravir resistance with few mutations. Out of 134 mutations documented in the CoV-GLUE database, 63 specific mutations were already predicted as resistant in our calculations, thus attaining ˜ 47% correlation with the sequencing data. These findings improve our understanding of the potential signatures of adaptation in SARS-CoV-2 against favipiravir.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

FEBS Letters, v. 595, issue 18, p. 2366-2382