In Silico Evaluation of Hexamethylene Amiloride Derivatives as Potential Luminal Inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 E Protein Jalily, Pouria H.; Jalily Hasani, Horia; Fedida, David
The coronavirus E proteins are small membrane proteins found in the virus envelope of alpha and beta coronaviruses that have a high degree of overlap in their biochemical and functional properties despite minor sequence variations. The SARS-CoV-2 E is a 75-amino acid transmembrane protein capable of acting as an ion channel when assembled in a pentameric fashion. Various studies have found that hexamethylene amiloride (HMA) can inhibit the ion channel activity of the E protein in bilayers and also inhibit viral replication in cultured cells. Here, we use the available structural data in conjunction with homology modelling to build a comprehensive model of the E protein to assess potential binding sites and molecular interactions of HMA derivatives. Furthermore, we employed an iterative cycle of molecular modelling, extensive docking simulations, molecular dynamics and leveraging steered molecular dynamics to better understand the pore characteristics and quantify the affinity of the bound ligands. Results from this work highlight the potential of acylguanidines as blockers of the E protein and guide the development of subsequent small molecule inhibitors.
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