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Repurposing proteases: An in-silico analysis of the binding potential of extracellular fungal proteases with selected viral proteins

Proteases have long been the target of many drugs, but their potential as therapeutic agents is a well-known, but under-explored area. Due to the heightened threat from new and emerging infectious agents, it is worthwhile to tap into the vast microbial protease resource to identify potential therapeutics. By docking proteases of the fungus Penicillium janthinellum NCIM 1366 with the proteins encoded by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the enzymes that have the potential to bind with, and thereby degrade viral proteins were identified. In-silico docking analysis revealed that both fungal and commercially available proteases belonging to the A1A, M20A, S10, S8A and T1A families were able to bind the viral spike, envelope, ORF-7a and Nsp2 proteins (binding energy < −50 kJ/mol), thereby opening up the possibility of developing additional therapeutic applications for these enzymes.