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This article is part of the supplement: Tenth International Conference on Bioinformatics. First ISCB Asia Joint Conference 2011 (InCoB/ISCB-Asia 2011): Bioinformatics

Open Access Proceedings

Non-nucleosidic inhibition of Herpes simplex virus DNA polymerase: mechanistic insights into the anti-herpetic mode of action of herbal drug withaferin A

Abhinav Grover1, Vibhuti Agrawal1, Ashutosh Shandilya2, Virendra S Bisaria1 and Durai Sundar1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, Hauz Khas, New Delhi 110016, India

2 Supercomputing Facility for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, Hauz Khas, New Delhi 110016, India

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BMC Bioinformatics 2011, 12(Suppl 13):S22  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-S13-S22

Published: 30 November 2011

Abstract

Background

Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2 causes several infections in humans including cold sores and encephalitis. Previous antiviral studies on herpes viruses have focussed on developing nucleoside analogues that can inhibit viral polymerase and terminate the replicating viral DNA. However, these drugs bear an intrinsic non-specificity as they can also inhibit cellular polymerase apart from the viral one. The present study is an attempt to elucidate the action mechanism of naturally occurring withaferin A in inhibiting viral DNA polymerase, thus providing an evidence for its development as a novel anti-herpetic drug.

Results

Withaferin A was found to bind very similarly to that of the previously reported 4-oxo-DHQ inhibitor. Withaferin A was observed binding to the residues Gln 617, Gln 618, Asn 815 and Tyr 818, all of which are crucial to the proper functioning of the polymerase. A comparison of the conformation obtained from docking and the molecular dynamics simulations shows that substantial changes in the binding conformations have occurred. These results indicate that the initial receptor-ligand interaction observed after docking can be limited due to the receptor rigid docking algorithm and that the conformations and interactions observed after simulation runs are more energetically favoured.

Conclusions

We have performed docking and molecular dynamics simulation studies to elucidate the binding mechanism of prospective herbal drug withaferin A onto the structure of DNA polymerase of Herpes simplex virus. Our docking simulations results give high binding affinity of the ligand to the receptor. Long de novo MD simulations for 10 ns performed allowed us to evaluate the dynamic behaviour of the system studied and corroborate the docking results, as well as identify key residues in the enzyme-inhibitor interactions. The present MD simulations support the hypothesis that withaferin A is a potential ligand to target/inhibit DNA polymerase of the Herpes simplex virus. Results of these studies will also guide the design of selective inhibitors of DNA POL with high specificity and potent activity in order to strengthen the therapeutic arsenal available today against the dangerous biological warfare agent represented by Herpes Simplex Virus.