• Active site prediction of phosphorylated SARS-CoV-2 N-Protein using molecular simulation.

      Sankararaman, Sreenidhi; Hamre, John; Almsned, Fahad; Aljouie, Abdulrhman; Bokhari, Yahya; Alawwad, Mohammed; Alomair, Lamya; Jafri, M Saleet (Elsevier, 2022-02-21)
      The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) nucleocapsid protein (N-protein) is responsible for viral replication by assisting in viral RNA synthesis and attaching the viral genome to the replicase-transcriptase complex (RTC). Numerous studies suggested the N-protein as a drug target. However, the specific N-protein active sites for SARS-CoV-2 drug treatments are yet to be discovered. The purpose of this study was to determine active sites of the SARS-CoV-2 N-protein by identifying torsion angle classifiers for N-protein structural changes that correlated with the respective angle differences between the active and inactive N-protein. In the study, classifiers with a minimum accuracy of 80% determined from molecular simulation data were analyzed by Principal Component Analysis and cross-validated by Logistic Regression, Support Vector Machine, and Random Forest Classification. The ability of torsion angles ψ252 and φ375 to differentiate between phosphorylated and unphosphorylated structures suggested that residues 252 and 375 in the RNA binding domain might be important in N-protein activation. Furthermore, the φ and ψ angles of residue S189 correlated to a 90.7% structural determination accuracy. The key residues involved in the structural changes identified here might suggest possible important functional sites on the N-protein that could be the focus of further study to understand their potential as drug targets. © 2022 The Authors