Microscopic interactions between ivermectin and key human and viral proteins involved in SARS-CoV-2 infection†
The identification of chemical compounds able to bind specific sites of the human/viral proteins involved in the SARS-CoV-2 infection cycle is a prerequisite to design effective antiviral drugs. Here we conduct a molecular dynamics study with the aim to assess the interactions of ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug with broad-spectrum antiviral activity, with the human Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2), the viral 3CLpro and PLpro proteases, and the viral SARS Unique Domain (SUD). The drug/target interactions have been characterized in silico by describing the nature of the non-covalent interactions found and by measuring the extent of their time duration along the MD simulation. Results reveal that the ACE2 protein and the ACE2/RBD aggregates form the most persistent interactions with ivermectin, while the binding with the remaining viral proteins is more limited and unspecific.