Discovery of selective dengue virus inhibitors using combination of molecular fingerprint-based virtual screening protocols, structure-based pharmacophore model development, molecular dynamics simulations and in vitro studies.J Mol Graph Model. 2018 01; 79:88-102.JM
Dengue virus is a major issue of tropical and sub-tropical regions. The proliferation of virus results in immense number of deaths each year because of unavailability of on-shelf drugs. This issue necessitates the design of novel anti-Dengue drugs. The protease enzyme pathway is the critical target for drug design due to its significance in the replication, survival and other cellular activities of Dengue virus. Keeping in mind the worsening situation regarding Dengue virus, approximately eighteen million drug-like compounds from the ZINC small molecule database have been screened against Nonstructural Protein 3 (NS3) previously by our group. In this study, in order to investigate the effect of extended time of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations on structural and dynamical profiles of used complexes, simulation run time is increased from 50-ns to 100-ns for the each system. In addition, a well-known Dengue virus inhibitor (MB21) from literature is used as reference structure (positive control) to compare the proposed molecules. Post-processing MD analyses including Molecular Mechanics/Generalized Born Surface Area (MM/GBSA) calculations were conducted to predict binding free energies of inhibitors from derived trajectory frames of MD simulations. Identified compounds are further directed to Quantum-Polarized Ligand Docking (QPLD), molecular fingerprint-based virtual screening of another small molecule database (Otava Drug Like small molecule database), and Structure-based Pharmacophore Modeling (E-Pharmacophore). Finally, cell proliferation and cytotoxicity tests as well as pre- and post-treatment on HUH7 cells infected with DENV2 NGC strain are applied for four identified hit molecules (ZINC36681949, ZINC44921800, ZINC95518765 and ZINC39500661) to check whether these drugs inhibit DENV2 from entry and/or exit pathways. Based on cell-based Dengue quantification assays, there is no effect seen on pre-treatment of cells with these compounds indicating that the early infection processes of virus is not affected. In contrast, the post-treatment of cells with these compounds after Dengue virus infection has resulted in a significant 1 log PFU/ml reduction of the virus infectious titre.