Rev Esp Quimioter 2022; 35(2):204-212

Putative Secondary Structure at 5’UTR as a Potential Antiviral Target against SARS-CoV-2


Published: 15 December 2021


SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped positive-sense single-stranded RNA coronavirus that causes COVID-19, of which the current outbreak has resulted in a high number of cases and fatalities throughout the world, even vaccine doses are being administered. The aim of this work was to scan the SARS-CoV-2 genome in search for therapeutic targets. We found a sequence in the 5’UTR (NC\_045512:74-130), consisting of a typical heptamer next to a structured region that may cause ribosomal frameshifting. The potential biological value of this region is relevant through its low similarity with other viruses, including coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV, and its high sequence conservation within multiple SARS-CoV-2 isolates. We have predicted the secondary structure of the region by means of different bioinformatic tools. We have suggested a most probable secondary structure to proceed with a 3D reconstruction of the structured segment. Finally, we carried out virtual docking on the 3D structure to look for a binding site and then for drug ligands from a database of lead compounds. Several molecules that could be probably administered as oral drugs show promising binding affinity within the structured region, and so it could be possible interfere its potential regulatory role.

Rev Esp Quimioter 2022; 35(2):204-212 [Full-text PDF]