Synthetic Peptides That Antagonize the Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme-2 (ACE-2) Interaction with SARS-CoV-2 Receptor Binding Spike Protein

Afsaneh Sadremomtaz, Zayana M Al-Dahmani, Angel J Ruiz-Moreno, Alessandra Monti, Chao Wang, Taha Azad, John C Bell, Nunzianna Doti, Marco A Velasco-Velázquez, Debora de Jong, Jørgen de Jonge, Jolanda Smit, Alexander Dömling, Harry van Goor*, Matthew R Groves*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The SARS-CoV-2 viral spike protein S receptor-binding domain (S-RBD) binds ACE2 on host cells to initiate molecular events, resulting in intracellular release of the viral genome. Therefore, antagonists of this interaction could allow a modality for therapeutic intervention. Peptides can inhibit the S-RBD:ACE2 interaction by interacting with the protein-protein interface. In this study, protein contact atlas data and molecular dynamics simulations were used to locate interaction hotspots on the secondary structure elements α1, α2, α3, β3, and β4 of ACE2. We designed a library of discontinuous peptides based upon a combination of the hotspot interactions, which were synthesized and screened in a bioluminescence-based assay. The peptides demonstrated high efficacy in antagonizing the SARS-CoV-2 S-RBD:ACE2 interaction and were validated by microscale thermophoresis which demonstrated strong binding affinity (∼10 nM) of these peptides to S-RBD. We anticipate that such discontinuous peptides may hold the potential for an efficient therapeutic treatment for COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2836-2847
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number4
Early online date30-Jul-2021
Publication statusPublished - 24-Feb-2022

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