Anti-Fungal Drug Anidulafungin Inhibits SARS-CoV-2 Spike-Induced Syncytia Formation by Targeting ACE2-Spike Protein Interaction.

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Ahamad, Shahzaib 
Secco, Ilaria 
Giacca, Mauro 
Gupta, Dinesh 

Drug repositioning continues to be the most effective, practicable possibility to treat COVID-19 patients. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus enters target cells by binding to the ACE2 receptor via its spike (S) glycoprotein. We used molecular docking-based virtual screening approaches to categorize potential antagonists, halting ACE2-spike interactions by utilizing 450 FDA-approved chemical compounds. Three drug candidates (i.e., anidulafungin, lopinavir, and indinavir) were selected, which show high binding affinity toward the ACE2 receptor. The conformational stability of selected docked complexes was analyzed through molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The MD simulation trajectories were assessed and monitored for ACE2 deviation, residue fluctuation, the radius of gyration, solvent accessible surface area, and free energy landscapes. The inhibitory activities of the selected compounds were eventually tested in-vitro using Vero and HEK-ACE2 cells. Interestingly, besides inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein induced syncytia formation, anidulafungin and lopinavir also blocked S-pseudotyped particle entry into target cells. Altogether, anidulafungin and lopinavir are ranked the most effective among all the tested drugs against ACE2 receptor-S glycoprotein interaction. Based on these findings, we propose that anidulafungin is a novel potential drug targeting ACE2, which warrants further investigation for COVID-19 treatment.

ACE2, COVID-19, MD simulations, SARS-CoV-2, anidulafungin, syncytia, virtual screening
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Front Genet
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Frontiers Media SA