Biological and Medicinal Chemistry

Repurposing of FDA-Approved Toremifene to Treat COVID-19 by Blocking the Spike Glycoprotein and NSP14 of SARS-CoV-2



The global pandemic of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has led to the death of more than 350,000 worldwide and over 100,000 in the United States alone. However, there are currently no proven effective pharmacotherapies for COVID-19. Here, we combine homology modeling, molecular docking, molecular dynamics simulation, and binding affinity calculations to determine potential targets for toremifene, a selective estrogen receptor modulator which we have previously identified as a SARS-CoV-2 inhibitor. Our results indicate the possibility of inhibition of the spike glycoprotein by toremifene, responsible for aiding in fusion of the viral membrane with the cell membrane, via a perturbation to the fusion core. An interaction between the dimethylamine end of toremifene and residues Q954 and N955 in heptad repeat 1 (HR1) perturbs the structure, causing a shift from what is normally a long, helical region to short helices connected by unstructured regions. Additionally, we found a strong interaction between toremifene and the methyltransferase non-structural protein (NSP) 14, which could be inhibitory to viral replication via its active site. These results suggest potential structural mechanisms for toremifene by blocking the spike protein and NSP14 of SARS-CoV-2, offering a drug candidate for COVID-19.


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