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bioRxiv Preprint

{beta}-coronaviruses alone have been responsible for three major global outbreaks in the 21st century. The current crisis has led to an urgent requirement to develop therapeutics. Even though a number of vaccines are available, alternative strategies targeting essential viral components are required as a back-up against the emergence of lethal viral variants. One such target is the main protease (Mpro) that plays an indispensible role in viral replication. The availability of over 270 Mpro X-ray structures in complex with inhibitors provides unique insights into ligand-protein interactions. Herein, we provide a comprehensive comparison of all non-redundant ligand-binding sites available for SARS-CoV2, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV Mpro. Extensive adaptive sampling has been used to explore conformational dynamics employing convolutional variational auto encoder-based deep learning, and investigates structural conservation of the ligand binding sites using Markov state models across {beta}-coronavirus homologs. Our results indicate that not all ligand-binding sites are dynamically conserved despite high sequence and structural conservation across {beta}-coronavirus homologs. This highlights the complexity in targeting all three Mpro enzymes with a single pan inhibitor.

Cho, E.; Rosa, M.; Anjum, R.; Mehmood, S.; Soban, M.; Mujtaba, M.; Bux, K.; Dantu, S. C.; Pandini, A.; Yin, J.; Ma, H.; Ramanathan, A.; Islam, B.; Mey, A.; BHOWMIK, D.; Haider, S.