Evolving geographic diversity in SARS-CoV2 and in silico analysis of replicating enzyme 3CLprotargeting repurposed drug candidates

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Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has been initiating pandemics since the beginning of the century. In December 2019, the world was hit again by a devastating SARS episode that has so far infected almost four million individuals worldwide, with over 200,000 fatalities having already occurred by mid-April 2020, and the infection rate continues to grow exponentially. SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a single stranded RNA pathogen which is characterised by a high mutation rate. It is vital to explore the mutagenic capability of the viral genome that enables SARS-CoV-2 to rapidly jump from one host immunity to another and adapt to the genetic pool of local populations. Methods: For this study, we analysed 2301 complete viral sequences reported from SARS-CoV-2 infected patients. SARS-CoV-2 host genomes were collected from The Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) database containing 9 genomes from pangolin-CoV origin and 3 genomes from bat-CoV origin, Wuhan SARS-CoV2 reference genome was collected from GeneBank database. The Multiple sequence alignment tool, Clustal Omega was used for genomic sequence alignment. The viral replicating enzyme, 3-chymotrypsin-like cysteine protease (3CLpro) that plays a key role in its pathogenicity was used to assess its affinity with pharmacological inhibitors and repurposed drugs such as anti-viral flavones, biflavanoids, anti-malarial drugs and vitamin supplements. Results: Our results demonstrate that bat-CoV shares > 96% similar identity, while pangolin-CoV shares 85.98% identity with Wuhan SARS-CoV-2 genome. This in-depth analysis has identified 12 novel recurrent mutations in South American and African viral genomes out of which 3 were unique in South America, 4 unique in Africa and 5 were present in-patient isolates from both populations. Using state of the art in silico approaches, this study further investigates the interaction of repurposed drugs with the SARS-CoV-2 3CLpro enzyme, which regulates viral replication machinery. Conclusions: Overall, this study provides insights into the evolving mutations, with implications to understand viral pathogenicity and possible new strategies for repurposing compounds to combat the nCovid-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number278
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2020

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