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SARS CoV-2 is the causative agent of the pandemic disease COVID-19. There is an urgent need for effective drugs or vaccines which can effectively combat this outbreak. The main protease (Mpro), a key component for the SARS CoV-2 replication, is considered to be one of the important drug targets for developing anti-COVID-19 drugs. This SARS CoV-2 Mpro/cysteine protease has high sequence similarity with the same protease from SARS CoV-1. Previously, it has been shown experimentally that eight diterpenoids and four biflavonoids derived from the leaf of Torreya nucifera show inhibitory effect on the cleavage/catalytic activity of the SARS CoV-1 Mpro. But whether these phytochemicals exhibit any inhibitory effect on SARS CoV-2 Mpro is unclear. To understand this fact, here, we have adopted various in-silico approaches. Diterpenoids and biflavonoids those qualified pharmacological test (hinokiol, amentoflavone, bilobetin and ginkgetin) and two well-known Mpro inhibitors (N3 and lopinavir) were subjected for molecular docking studies. Only three biflavonoids (amentoflavone, bilobetin and ginkgetin) were selected by comparing their binding affinities with N3 and lopinavir. They interacted with two most important catalytic residues of Mpro (His41 and Cys145). Molecular dynamics studies further revealed that these three Mpro-biflavonoid complexes are highly stable and share a similar degree of compactness. Besides, these complexes experience less conformational fluctuations and more expansion than Mpro-N3 and/or Mpro-lopinavir complex. MM-GBSA and H-bond analysis further corroborated these findings. Altogether, our study suggested that these three biflavonoids could possibly inhibit the proteolytic/catalytic activity of SARS CoV-2 Mpro and might be useful for COVID-19 treatment.Communicated by Ramaswamy H. Sarma.


Rajesh Ghosh, Ayon Chakraborty, Ashis Biswas, Snehasis Chowdhuri. Computer aided identification of potential SARS CoV-2 main protease inhibitors from diterpenoids and biflavonoids of Torreya nucifera leaves. Journal of biomolecular structure & dynamics. 2022 Apr;40(6):2647-2662

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PMID: 33140695

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