Druggability for COVID19 – in Silico Discovery of Potential Drug Compounds Against Nucleocapsid (N) Protein of SARS-CoV-2

Background:

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was caused havoc throughout the world by creating widespread mortality and morbidity. The presence of RNA binding domain in the nucleocapsid (N) protein of SARS-CoV-2 is a potential drug target, serving multiple critical functions during the viral life cycle, especially the viral replication. The unavailability of vaccines and proper antiviral drugs encourages the researchers to identify some potential antiviral drug compounds to be used against N protein of SARS-CoV-2 for this current scenario. While vaccine development might take some time, the identification of a drug compound might decrease the widespread deaths and suffering.

Method: This study was analyzed the phylogenetic relationship of N protein sequence divergence with other 49 CoV species and also identified the conserved regions according to protein families through conserved domain search. Along with it, good structural binding affinities of some natural/synthetic phytocompounds/ drugs against N protein were also found using the molecular docking approaches.

Result: The analyzed antiviral properties, predicted binding affinities and the presence of higher numbers of Hydrogen bonds of selected compounds represent the drug-ability of these compounds. Among them, the established antiviral drug Glycyrrhizic acid and the phytochemical Theaflavin can be considered as putative drug compound against target protein of SARS-CoV-2 as they showed all the properties of a potential drug.

Conclusion: The findings of this study might lead to the development of a drug for the disease and helpful to reduce the risk of deadly infections in host cell due to SARS-CoV-2.