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In Journal of biomolecular structure & dynamics

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has rapidly extended globally and killed approximately 5.83 million people all over the world. But, to date, no effective therapeutic against the disease has been developed. The disease is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and enters the host cell through the spike glycoprotein (S protein) of the virus. Subsequently, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) and main protease (Mpro) of the virus mediate viral transcription and replication. Mechanistically inhibition of these proteins can hinder the transcription as well as replication of the virus. Recently oxysterols and its derivative, such as 25 (S)-hydroxycholesterol (25-HC) has shown antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. But the exact mechanisms and their impact on RdRp and Mpro have not been explored yet. Therefore, the study aimed to identify the inhibitory activity of 25-HC against the viral enzymes RdRp and Mpro simultaneously. Initially, a molecular docking simulation was carried out to evaluate the binding activity of the compound against the two proteins. The pharmacokinetics (PK) and toxicity parameters were analyzed to observe the 'drug-likeness' properties of the compound. Additionally, molecular dynamics (MD) simulation was performed to confirm the binding stability of the compound to the targeted protein. Furthermore, molecular mechanics generalized Born surface area (MM-GBSA) was used to predict the binding free energies of the compound to the targeted protein. Molecular docking simulation identified low glide energy -51.0 kcal/mol and -35.0 kcal/mol score against the RdRp and Mpro, respectively, where MD simulation found good binding stability of the compound to the targeted proteins. In addition, the MM/GBSA approach identified a good value of binding free energies (ΔG bind) of the compound to the targeted proteins. Therefore, the study concludes that the compound 25-HC could be developed as a treatment and/or prevention option for SARS-CoV-2 disease-related complications. Although, experimental validation is suggested for further evaluation of the work.Communicated by Ramaswamy H. Sarma.

Alzahrani Faisal A, Alkarim Saleh A, Hawsawi Yousef M, Abdulaal Wesam H, Albiheyri Raed, Kurdi Bassem, Alguridi Hassan, El-Magd Mohammed A


25-hydroxycholesterol, MD simulation, RdRp, SARS-CoV-2, main protease, molecular docking, spike glycoprotein