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Efficient ligand discovery from natural herbs by integrating virtual screening, affinity mass spectrometry and targeted metabolomics

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Abstract

Although natural herbs have been a rich source of compounds for drug discovery, identification of bioactive components from natural herbs suffers from low efficiency and prohibitive cost of the conventional bioassay-based screening platforms. Here we develop a new strategy that integrates virtual screening, affinity mass spectrometry (MS) and targeted metabolomics for efficient discovery of herb-derived ligands towards a specific protein target site. Herb-based virtual screening conveniently selects herbs of potential bioactivity whereas affinity MS combined with targeted metabolomics readily screens candidate compounds in a high-throughput manner. This new integrated approach was benchmarked on screening chemical ligands that target the hydrophobic pocket of the nucleoprotein (NP) of Ebola viruses for which no small molecule ligands have been reported. Seven compounds identified by this approach from the crude extracts of three natural herbs were all validated to bind to the NP target in pure ligand binding assays. Among them, three compounds isolated from Piper nigrum (HJ-1, HJ-4 and HJ-6) strongly promoted the formation of large NP oligomers and reduced the protein thermal stability. In addition, cooperative binding between these chemical ligands and an endogenous peptide ligand was observed, and molecular docking was employed to propose a possible mechanism. Taken together, we established a platform integrating in silico and experimental screening approaches for efficient discovery of herb-derived bioactive ligands especially towards non-enzyme protein targets.

Graphical abstract: Efficient ligand discovery from natural herbs by integrating virtual screening, affinity mass spectrometry and targeted metabolomics

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Publication details

The article was received on 23 Dec 2018, accepted on 19 Jan 2019 and first published on 26 Jan 2019


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8AN02482K
Citation: Analyst, 2019, Advance Article

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    Efficient ligand discovery from natural herbs by integrating virtual screening, affinity mass spectrometry and targeted metabolomics

    Z. Wang, H. Liang, H. Cao, B. Zhang, J. Li, W. Wang, S. Qin, Y. Wang, L. Xuan, L. Lai and W. Shui, Analyst, 2019, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C8AN02482K

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