Exploring Toxins for Hunting SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease Inhibitors: Molecular Docking, Molecular Dynamics, Pharmacokinetic Properties, and Reactome Study

Mahmoud A.A. Ibrahim, Alaa H.M. Abdelrahman, Laila A. Jaragh-Alhadad, Mohamed A.M. Atia, Othman R. Alzahrani, Muhammad Naeem Ahmed, Moustafa Sherief Moustafa, Mahmoud E.S. Soliman, Ahmed M. Shawky, Paul W. Paré, Mohamed Elamir F. Hegazy, Peter A. Sidhom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The main protease (Mpro) is a potential druggable target in SARS-CoV-2 replication. Herein, an in silico study was conducted to mine for Mpro inhibitors from toxin sources. A toxin and toxin-target database (T3DB) was virtually screened for inhibitor activity towards the Mpro enzyme utilizing molecular docking calculations. Promising toxins were subsequently characterized using a combination of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and molecular mechanics-generalized Born surface area (MM-GBSA) binding energy estimations. According to the MM-GBSA binding energies over 200 ns MD simulations, three toxins—namely philanthotoxin (T3D2489), azaspiracid (T3D2672), and taziprinone (T3D2378)—demonstrated higher binding affinities against SARS-CoV-2 Mpro than the co-crystalized inhibitor XF7 with MM-GBSA binding energies of −58.9, −55.9, −50.1, and −43.7 kcal/mol, respectively. The molecular network analyses showed that philanthotoxin provides a ligand lead using the STRING database, which includes the biochemical top 20 signaling genes CTSB, CTSL, and CTSK. Ultimately, pathway enrichment analysis (PEA) and Reactome mining results revealed that philanthotoxin could prevent severe lung injury in COVID-19 patients through the remodeling of interleukins (IL-4 and IL-13) and the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). These findings have identified that philanthotoxin—a venom of the Egyptian solitary wasp—holds promise as a potential Mpro inhibitor and warrants further in vitro/in vivo validation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153
JournalPharmaceuticals
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Keywords

  • In silico screening
  • Molecular docking calculations
  • Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations
  • Reactome
  • SARS-CoV-2 M
  • Toxins

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