A Novel Therapeutic Peptide Blocks SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Binding with Host Cell ACE2 Receptor

Rajpoot S., Ohishi T., Kumar A., Pan Q., BANERJEE S. , Zhang K. Y. J. , ...More

DRUGS IN R&D, vol.21, no.3, pp.273-283, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 21 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s40268-021-00357-0
  • Title of Journal : DRUGS IN R&D
  • Page Numbers: pp.273-283


Background and Objective Coronavirus disease 2019 is a novel disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV)-2 virus. It was first detected in December 2019 and has since been declared a pandemic causing millions of deaths worldwide. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop effective therapeutics against coronavirus disease 2019. A critical step in the crosstalk between the virus and the host cell is the binding of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to the peptidase domain of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor present on the surface of host cells. Methods An in silico approach was employed to design a 13-amino acid peptide inhibitor (13AApi) against the RBD of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Its binding specificity for RBD was confirmed by molecular docking using pyDockWEB, ClusPro 2.0, and HDOCK web servers. The stability of 13AApi and the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein complex was determined by molecular dynamics simulation using the GROMACS program while the physicochemical and ADMET (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity) properties of 13AApi were determined using the ExPASy tool and pkCSM server. Finally, in vitro validation of the inhibitory activity of 13AApi against the spike protein was performed by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results In silico analyses indicated that the 13AApi could bind to the RBD of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein at the ACE2 binding site with high affinity. In vitro experiments validated the in silico findings, showing that 13AApi could significantly block the RBD of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Conclusions Blockage of binding of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein with ACE2 in the presence of the 13AApi may prevent virus entry into host cells. Therefore, the 13AApi can be utilized as a promising therapeutic agent to combat coronavirus disease 2019.