SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid Assembly Inhibitors: Repurposing Antiviral and Antimicrobial Drugs Targeting Nucleocapsid-RNA Interaction
SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has become a serious concern due to high transmission of this virus and unavailability of any definitive drugs yet in clinics. While novel antivirals are under investigation stage, scientists are also rigorously trying to use drug repurposing as an option to fight against this highly infectious novel coronavirus. Several drugs are under regular use for other diseases that are getting screened for their usability against SARS-CoV2. In this study we have targeted SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid assembly to shortlist FDA approved drugs that could be tested for inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles inside the host cell. We could shortlist five antiviral and anti-microbial drugs. These showed good fit in docking studies inside the RNA binding cleft of the nucleocapsid protein. Also, these drugs have lipophilic properties suggesting that they have the potential to enter the host cells. We propose that these shortlisted drugs could potentially compete out binding of viral RNA to nucleocapsid and thus inhibit successful virus assembly leading to poor virus progeny levels.