High Throughput in Silico Identification of Novel Phytochemical Inhibitors for the Master Regulator of Inflammation (TNFα)
The over expression of Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) has been implicated in a variety of disease and is classified as a therapeutic target for inflammatory diseases (Crohn disease, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis).Commercially available therapeutics are biologics which are associated with several risks and limitations. Small molecule inhibitors and natural compounds (saponins) were identified by researchers as lead molecules against TNFα, however, they were often associated with high IC50 values which can lead to their failure in clinical trials. This warrants research related to identification of better small molecule inhibitors by screening of large compound libraries. Recent developments have demonstrated power of natural compounds as safe therapeutics, hence, in this work, we have identified TNFα phytochemical inhibitors using high throughput in silico screening approaches of 6000 phytochemicals followed by 200 ns molecular dynamics simulations and relative binding free energy calculations. The work yielded potent hits that bind to TNFα at its dimer interface. The mechanism targeted was inhibition of oligomerization of TNFα upon phytochemical binding to restrict its interaction with TNF-R1 receptor. MD simulation analysis resulted in identification of two phytochemicals that showed stable protein-ligand conformations over time. The two compounds were triterpenoids: Momordicilin and Nimbolin A with relative binding energy- calculated by MM/PBSA to be -190.5 kJ/Mol and -188.03 kJ/Mol respectively. Therefore, through this work it is being suggested that these phytochemicals can be used for further in vitro analysis to confirm their inhibitory action against TNFα or can be used as scaffolds to arrive at better drug candidates.