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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Computational repositioning of ethno medicine elucidated gB-gH-gL complex as novel anti herpes drug target

Syed Hussain Basha1*, Deepthi Talluri2 and Nalini Prasad Raminni3

Author Affiliations

1 Independent Researcher, 117-D, WWSC, Guntupalli, Ibrahimpatnam, Vijayawada 521 241, India

2 Montessori Siva sivani Institute of Science and Technology-College of Pharmacy, Mylavaram, Vijayawada, 521 230, India

3 Department of Biotechnology, REVA Institute of Science and Management, Yelahanka, Bangalore, 560 064, India

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:85  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-85

Published: 15 April 2013



Herpes viruses are important human pathogens that can cause mild to severe lifelong infections with high morbidity. They remain latent in the host cells and can cause recurrent infections that might prove fatal. These viruses are known to infect the host cells by causing the fusion of viral and host cell membrane proteins. Fusion is achieved with the help of conserved fusion machinery components, glycoproteins gB, heterodimer gH-gL complex along with other non-conserved components. Whereas, another important glycoprotein gD without which viral entry to the cell is not possible, acts as a co-activator for the gB-gH-gL complex formation. Thus, this complex formation interface is the most promising drug target for the development of novel anti-herpes drug candidates. In the present study, we propose a model for binding of gH-gL to gB glycoprotein leading from pre to post conformational changes during gB-gH-gL complex formation and reported the key residues involved in this binding activity along with possible binding site locations. To validate the drug targetability of our proposed binding site, we have repositioned some of the most promising in vitro, in vivo validated anti-herpes molecules onto the proposed binding site of gH-gL complex in a computational approach.


Hex 6.3 standalone software was used for protein-protein docking studies. Arguslab 4.0.1 and Accelrys® Discovery Studio 3.1 Visualizer softwares were used for semi-flexible docking studies and visualizing the interactions respectively. Protein receptors and ethno compounds were retrieved from Protein Data Bank (PDB) and Pubchem databases respectively. Lipinski’s Filter, Osiris Property Explorer and Lazar online servers were used to check the pharmaceutical fidelity of the drug candidates.


Through protein-protein docking studies, it was identified that the amino acid residues VAL342, GLU347, SER349, TYR355, SER388, ASN395, HIS398 and ALA387 of gH-gL complex play an active role in its binding activity with gB. Semi flexible docking analysis of the most promising in vitro, in vivo validated anti-herpes molecules targeting the above mentioned key residues of gH-gL complex showed that all the analyzed ethno medicinal compounds have successfully docked into the proposed binding site of gH-gL glycoprotein with binding energy range between -10.4 to -6.4


Successful repositioning of the analyzed compounds onto the proposed binding site confirms the drug targetability of gH-gL complex. Based on the free binding energy and pharmacological properties, we propose (3-chloro phenyl) methyl-3,4,5 trihydroxybenzoate as worth a small ethno medicinal lead molecule for further development as potent anti-herpes drug candidate targeting gB-gH-gL complex formation interface.

Herpes simplex virus; gB-gH-gL complex; Ethnomedicine; Docking; (3-chloro phenyl) methyl-3, 4, 5 trihydroxybenzoate