Withanone and Withaferin-A are predicted to interact with transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2) and block entry of SARS-CoV-2 into cells.
J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2020 Jun 16:1-13. Epub 2020 Jun 16. PMID: 32469279
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) initiated in December 2019 in Wuhan, China and became pandemic causing high fatality and disrupted normal life calling world almost to a halt. Causative agent is a novel coronavirus called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV). While new line of drug/vaccine development has been initiated world-wide, in the current scenario of high infected numbers, severity of the disease and high morbidity, repurposing of the existing drugs is heavily explored. Here, we used a homology-based structural model of transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2), a cell surface receptor, required for entry of virus to the target host cell. Using the strengths of molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulations, we examined the binding potential of Withaferin-A (Wi-A), Withanone (Wi-N) and caffeic acid phenethyl ester to TPMRSS2 in comparison to its known inhibitor, Camostat mesylate. We found that both Wi-A and Wi-N could bind and stably interact at the catalytic site of TMPRSS2. Wi-N showed stronger interactions with TMPRSS2 catalytic residues than Wi-A and was also able to induce changes in its allosteric site. Furthermore, we investigated the effect of Wi-N on TMPRSS2 expression in MCF7 cells and found remarkable downregulation of TMPRSS2 mRNA in treated cells predicting dual action of Wi-N to block SARS-CoV-2 entry into the host cells. Since the natural compounds are easily available/affordable, they may even offer a timely therapeutic/preventive value for the management of SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We also report that Wi-A/Wi-N content varies in different parts of Ashwagandha and warrants careful attention for their use.Communicated by Ramaswamy H. Sarma.