A density functional theory study on silver and bis-silver complexes with lighter tetrylene: are silver and bis-silver carbenes candidates for SARS-CoV-2 inhibition? Insight from molecular docking simulation†
Ribavirin and remdesivir have been preclinically reported as potential drugs for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection, while light silver tetrylene complexes (NHEPh–AgCl and (NHEPh–AgCl)2 with E = C, Si, and Ge) have gained significant interest due to their promising applicability on the cytological scale. Firstly, the structures and bonding states of silver–tetrylene complexes (NHE–Ag) and bis-silver–tetrylene complexes (NHE–Ag-bis) were investigated using density functional theory (DFT) at the BP86 level with the def2-SVP and def2-TZVPP basis sets. Secondly, the inhibitory capabilities of the carbene complexes (NHC–Ag and NHC–Ag-bis) and the two potential drugs (ribavirin and remdesivir) on human-protein ACE2 and SARS-CoV-2 protease PDB6LU7 were evaluated using molecular docking simulation. The carbene ligand NHC bonds in a head-on configuration with AgCl and (AgCl)2, whereas, the other NHE (E = Si and Ge) tetrylene ligands bond in a side-on mode to the metal fragments. The bond dissociation energy (BDE) of the NHE–Ag bond in the complex families follows the order of NHC–Ag > NHSi–Ag > NHGe–Ag and NHSi–Ag-bis > NHGe–Ag-bis > NHC–Ag-bis. The natural bond orbital analysis implies that the [NHEPh→AgCl] and [(NHEPh)2→(AgCl)2] donations are derived mainly from the σ- and π-contributions of the ligands. The docking results indicate that both the ACE2 and PDB6LU7 proteins are strongly inhibited by silver–carbene NHC–Ag, bis-silver–carbene NHC–Ag-bis, ribavirin, and remdesivir with the docking score energy values varying from −17.5 to −16.5 kcal mol−1 and −16.9 to −16.6 kcal mol−1, respectively. The root-mean-square deviation values were recorded to be less than 2 Å in all the calculated systems. Thus, the present study suggests that silver–carbene NHC–Ag and bis-silver–carbene NHC–Ag-bis complexes are potential candidates to inhibit ACE2 and PDB6LU7, and thus potentially conducive to prevent infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
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