In silico study of the potential interactions of 4'-acetamidechalcones with protein targets in SARS-CoV-2

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2021 Jan 22:537:71-77. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2020.12.074. Epub 2020 Dec 26.


The sanitary emergency generated by the pandemic COVID-19, instigates the search for scientific strategies to mitigate the damage caused by the disease to different sectors of society. The disease caused by the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, reached 216 countries/territories, where about 20 million people were reported with the infection. Of these, more than 740,000 died. In view of the situation, strategies involving the development of new antiviral molecules are extremely important. The present work evaluated, through molecular docking assays, the interactions of 4'-acetamidechalcones with enzymatic and structural targets of SARS-CoV-2 and with the host's ACE2, which is recognized by the virus, facilitating its entry into cells. Therefore, it was observed that, regarding the interactions of chalcones with Main protease (Mpro), the chalcone N-(4'[(2E)-3-(4-flurophenyl)-1-(phenyl)prop-2-en-1-one]) acetamide (PAAPF) has the potential for coupling in the same region as the natural inhibitor FJC through strong hydrogen bonding. The formation of two strong hydrogen bonds between N-(4[(2E)-3-(phenyl)-1-(phenyl)-prop-2-en-1-one]) acetamide (PAAB) and the NSP16-NSP10 heterodimer methyltransferase was also noted. N-(4[(2E)-3-(4-methoxyphenyl)-1-(phenyl)prop-2-en-1-one]) acetamide (PAAPM) and N-(4-[(2E)-3-(4-ethoxyphenyl)-1-(phenyl)prop-2-en-1-one]) acetamide (PAAPE) chalcones showed at least one strong intensity interaction of the SPIKE protein. N-(4[(2E)-3-(4-dimetilaminophenyl)-1-(phenyl)-prop-2-en-1-one]) acetamide (PAAPA) chalcone had a better affinity with ACE2, with strong hydrogen interactions. Together, our results suggest that 4'-acetamidechalcones inhibit the interaction of the virus with host cells through binding to ACE2 or SPIKE protein, probably generating a steric impediment. In addition, chalcones have an affinity for important enzymes in post-translational processes, interfering with viral replication.

Keywords: ACE2; Chalcone; Molecular docking; SPIKE.

MeSH terms

  • Acetamides / chemistry*
  • Acetamides / pharmacology*
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 / chemistry*
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 / metabolism
  • Antiviral Agents / chemistry
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Chalcone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Chalcone / chemistry
  • Chalcone / pharmacology
  • Coronavirus 3C Proteases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Coronavirus 3C Proteases / chemistry*
  • Coronavirus 3C Proteases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Molecular Docking Simulation*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / chemistry
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / enzymology
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / chemistry*
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / metabolism
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • 4'-acetamidochalcone
  • Acetamides
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
  • spike protein, SARS-CoV-2
  • Chalcone
  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Coronavirus 3C Proteases