Publication date: Oct 01, 2023
The growing concerns and cases of COVID-19 with the appearance of novel variants i. e., BA. 2.75. BA. 5 and XBB have prompted demand for more effective treatment options that could overcome the risk of immune evasion. For this purpose, discovering novel small molecules to inhibit druggable proteins such as PLpro required for viral pathogenesis, replication, survival, and spread is the best choice. Compounds from the Dark chemical matter (DCM) database is consistently active in various screening tests and offer intriguing possibilities for finding drugs that are extremely selective or active against uncommon targets. Considering the essential role of PLpro, the current study uses DCMdatabase for the identification of potential hits using in silico virtual molecular screening and simulation approaches to inhibit the current and emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2. Our results revealed the 10 best compounds with docking scores between -7. 99 to -7. 03 kcal/mol better than the control drug (GRL0617) among which DC 5977-0726, DC 6623-2024, DC C879-0379 and DC D135-0154 were observed as the best hits. Structural-dynamics properties such as dynamic stability, protein packing, and residue flexibility demonstrated the pharmacologically favorable properties of these top hits in contrast to GRL0617. The hydrogen bonding half-life revealed that Asp164, Arg166, Tyr264, and Tyr268 have major contributions to the hydrogen bonding during the simulation. However, some of the important hydrogen bonds were missing in the control drug (GRL0617). Finally, the total binding free energy was reported to be -34. 41 kcal/mol for GRL0617 (control), -41. 03 kcal/mol for the DC5977-0726-PLpro, for the DC6623-2024-Plpro complex the TBE was -48. 87 kcal/mol, for the for DCC879-0379-Plpro complex the TBE was -45. 66 kcal/mol while for the DCD135-0154-PLpro complex the TBE was calculated to be -40. 09 kcal/mol respectively, which shows the stronger potency of these compounds against PLpro and further in in vivo and in vitro test are required for the possible usage as potential drug against SARS-CoV-2.