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FEBS Open Bio ; 12(1): 285-294, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1540045


Cepharanthine (CEP) is a natural biscoclaurine alkaloid of plant origin and was recently demonstrated to have anti-severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (anti-SARS-CoV-2) activity. In this study, we evaluated whether natural analogues of CEP may act as potential anti-coronavirus disease 2019 drugs. A total of 24 compounds resembling CEP were extracted from the KNApSAcK database, and their binding affinities to target proteins, including the spike protein and main protease of SARS-CoV-2, NPC1 and TPC2 in humans, were predicted via molecular docking simulations. Selected analogues were further evaluated by a cell-based SARS-CoV-2 infection assay. In addition, the efficacies of CEP and its analogue tetrandrine were assessed. A comparison of the docking conformations of these compounds suggested that the diphenyl ester moiety of the molecules was a putative pharmacophore of the CEP analogues.

Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Benzylisoquinolines/pharmacology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Plant Preparations/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/metabolism , Benzylisoquinolines/chemistry , Benzylisoquinolines/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus M Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Coronavirus M Proteins/chemistry , Coronavirus M Proteins/metabolism , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical/methods , Humans , Molecular Docking Simulation , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Plant Preparations/chemistry , Plant Preparations/metabolism , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Stephania/chemistry , Vero Cells