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J Phys Chem Lett ; 12(17): 4195-4202, 2021 May 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1387119

ABSTRACT

The catalytic reaction in SARS-CoV-2 main protease is activated by a proton transfer (PT) from Cys145 to His41. The same PT is likely also required for the covalent binding of some inhibitors. Here we use a multiscale computational approach to investigate the PT thermodynamics in the apo enzyme and in complex with two potent inhibitors, N3 and the α-ketoamide 13b. We show that with the inhibitors the free energy cost to reach the charge-separated state of the active-site dyad is lower, with N3 inducing the most significant reduction. We also show that a few key sites (including specific water molecules) significantly enhance or reduce the thermodynamic feasibility of the PT reaction, with selective desolvation of the active site playing a crucial role. The approach presented is a cost-effective procedure to identify the enzyme regions that control the activation of the catalytic reaction and is thus also useful to guide the design of inhibitors.


Subject(s)
Drug Design , Protease Inhibitors/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , Viral Matrix Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/metabolism , Biocatalysis , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Catalytic Domain , Humans , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Protease Inhibitors/metabolism , Protons , Quantum Theory , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Thermodynamics , Viral Matrix Proteins/metabolism
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