A Comprehensive SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Analysis Identifies Potential Targets for Drug Repurposing

Background: The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which is a novel human coronavirus strain (HCoV) initially reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City, China causing pneumonia-like symptoms and other respiratory tract illness. It’s higher transmission and infection rate has successfully enabled it to have a global spread over a matter of small time. With 6,529,240 cases and about 385,264 deaths, this pandemic has become a global concern with certain drugs and vaccines failing at later clinical trials.

Materials and Methods: Phylogenetic Analysis, Haplotype Network, Analysis of conserved genes and population-level variants, Using conserved genes as targets for drug designing, Docking studies and Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations to predict the stability of Drug-Ligand Complex.

Results: We identified the most common haplotypes from the haplotype network and at least seven different clusters were found signifying seven different viral lineages across the globe. We studied the mutation frequency across the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome. The conserved genes and population level variants were analyzed and NSP10, Nucleoprotein, Plpro and 3CLpro which were conserved at the highest threshold were used as drug targets for molecular dynamics simulations. Darifenacin, Nebivolol, Bictegravir, Alvimopan and Irbesartan are among the potential drugs which are suggested for further pre-clinical and clinical trials.

Significance: This particular study provides a comprehensive targeting of the conserved genes as a novel approach for drug targeting. The conserved gene approach could also be of a big use while designing vaccines and cure. Mutations in the viral genome make the designing of the drugs a challenging task which has a higher risk of failure at later clinical trials. This approach of targeting the stable genes for drug discovery would provide a better therapeutic approach and confidence in the successive clinical trials. We also identified the global level spread of SARS-CoV-2 and mutation frequencies across the viral genome. Our study gives insights of the origin and global spread of the SARS-CoV-2. The data provided in this study can further be used by other groups to understand and combat Covid 19.