Agriculture and Food Chemistry

Food phytochemicals, epigallocatechin gallate and myricetin, covalently bind to the active site of the coronavirus main protease in vitro



SARS-CoV-2 main protease is a possible target for protection against viral infection. This study examined the inhibitory effect of food phytochemicals on the main protease of SARS-CoV-2 by determining a cleaved product after chromatographic separation. First, 37 phytochemicals, including glycosides and metabolites, were screened at 20 µM; epigallocatechin gallate, myricetin, theaflavin, herbacetin, piceatannol, myricitrin, and isothiocyanates inhibited the enzyme in varying degrees. The IC50 values were estimated from 0.4 to 33.3 µM against the 0.5-µM enzyme. The dose-dependent adduction of epigallocatechin gallate and myricetin was confirmed by quinone staining of protein blotted onto a membrane. The enzyme activity was decreased by increasing the concentration of the two phytochemicals, accompanied by increasing the respective adducted molecule estimated by intact mass spectrometry. Reduced glutathione canceled the formation of conjugate and the inhibitory effect of epigallocatechin gallate or myricetin on the enzyme, suggesting that the formation of the quinone moiety in the phytochemicals is critical for the inhibition. The covalent binding of epigallocatechin gallate or myricetin to the cysteine residue at the active site was confirmed by analyzing peptides from the chymotrypsin-digested main protease.


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Supplementary material

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Supplemental figures 1 and 2
Supplemental Figure 1 Coomassie brilliant blue staining of purified MBP-tagged main protease (Mpro) and MBP-cleaved protease. Supplemental Figure 2 IC50s of phytochemicals.