Molecular modeling simulation studies reveal new potential inhibitors against HPV E6 protein

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Abstract

High-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) have been identified as the etiologic agent of some anogenital tract, head, and neck cancers. Although prophylactic HPV vaccines have been approved; it is still necessary a drug-based treatment against the infection and its oncogenic effects. The E6 oncoprotein is one of the most studied therapeutic targets of HPV, it has been identified as a key factor in cell immortalization and tumor progression in HPV-positive cells. E6 can promote the degradation of p53, a tumor suppressor protein, through the interaction with the cellular ubiquitin ligase E6AP. Therefore, preventing the formation of the E6-E6AP complex is one of the main strategies to inhibit the viability and proliferation of infected cells. Herein, we propose an in silico pipeline to identify small-molecule inhibitors of the E6-E6AP interaction. Virtual screening was carried out by predicting the ADME properties of the molecules and performing ensemble-based docking simulations to E6 protein followed by binding free energy estimation through MM/PB(GB)SA methods. Finally, the top-three compounds were selected, and their stability in the E6 docked complex and their effect in the inhibition of the E6-E6AP interaction was corroborated by molecular dynamics simulation. Therefore, this pipeline and the identified molecules represent a new starting point in the development of anti-HPV drugs.

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Ricci-López, J., Vidal-Limon, A., Zunñiga, M., Jimènez, V. A., Alderete, J. B., Brizuela, C. A., & Aguila, S. (2019). Molecular modeling simulation studies reveal new potential inhibitors against HPV E6 protein. PLoS ONE, 14(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213028

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