ABSTRACT: The cleavage mechanism of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus main proteinase (M(pro) or 3CL(pro)) for the octapeptide AVLQSGFR is studied using molecular mechanics (MM) and quantum mechanics (QM). The catalytic dyad His-41 and Cys-145 in the active pocket between domain I and II seem to polarize the pi-electron density of the peptide bond between Gln and Ser in the octapeptide, leading to an increase of positive charge on C(CO) of Gln and negative charge on N(NH) of Ser. The possibility of enhancing the chemical bond between Gln and Ser based on the "distorted key" theory [Anal. Biochem. 233 (1996) 1] is examined. The scissile peptide bond between Gln and Ser is found to be solidified through "hybrid peptide bond" by changing the carbonyl group CO of Gln to CH(2) or CF(2). This leads to a break of the pi-bond system for the peptide bond, making the octapeptide (AVLQSGFR) a "distorted key" and a potential starting system for the design of anti SARS drugs.
Peptides 12/2004; 25(11):1857-64. · 2.43 Impact Factor