In silico screening of Allium cepa phytochemicals for their binding abilities to SARS and SARS-CoV-2 3C-like protease and COVID-19 human receptor ACE-2


Corona virus SARS-CoV-2-induced viral disease (COVID-19) is a zoonotic disease that was initially transmitted from animals to humans. The virus surfaced towards the end of December 2019 in Wuhan, China where earlier SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) had also surfaced in 2003. Unlike SARS, SARS-CoV-2 (a close relative of the SARS virus) created a pandemic, and as of February 24 2021, caused 112,778,672 infections and 2,499,252 deaths world-wide. Despite the best efforts of scientists, no drugs against COVID-19 are yet in sight; five vaccines have received emergency approval in various countries, but it would be a difficult task to vaccinate twice the world population of 8 billion. The objective of the present study was to evaluate through in silico screening a number of phytochemicals in Allium cepa (onion) regarding their ability to bind to the main protease of COVID-19 known as the 3C-like protease or 3CL(pro), (PDB ID: 6W7), 3CL(pro) of SARS (PDB ID: 3M3V), and human angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2), [PDB ID: 1R42], which functions as a receptor for entry of the virus into humans. Molecular docking (blind docking, that is docking not only against any target pocket) were done with the help of AutoDockVina. It was observed that of the twenty-two phytochemicals screened, twelve showed good binding affinities to the main protease of SARS-CoV-2. Surprisingly, the compounds also demonstrated good binding affinities to ACE-2. It is therefore very likely that the binding affinities shown by these compounds against both 3CL(pro) and ACE-2 merit further study for their potential use as therapeutic agents.

subject category

Parasitology; Tropical Medicine


Bondhon, TA; Fatima, A; Jannat, K; Hasan, A; Jahan, R; Nissapatorn, V; Wiart, C; Pereira, ML; Rahmatullah, M

our authors


M. L. Pereira thanks Project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, UIDB/50011/2020 and UIDP/50011/2020.

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