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Ligand-based virtual screening, molecular docking, and molecular dynamics of eugenol analogs as potential acetylcholinesterase inhibitors with biological activity against Spodoptera frugiperda


The development of new, more selective, environmental-friendly insecticide alternatives is in high demand for the control of Spodoptera frugiperda (S. frugiperda). The major objective of this work was to search for new potential S. frugiperda acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors. A ligand-based virtual screening was initially carried out considering six scaffolds derived from eugenol and the ZINC15, PubChem, and MolPort databases. Subsequently, molecular docking analysis of the selected compounds on the active site and a second region (determined by blind molecular docking) of the AChE of S. frugiperda was performed. Molecular dynamics and Molecular Mechanics Poisson–Boltzmann Surface Area analyses were also applied to improve the docking results. Finally, three new eugenol analogs were evaluated in vitro against S. frugiperda larvae. The virtual screening identified 1609 compounds from the chemical libraries. Control compounds were selected from the interaction fingerprint by molecular docking. Only three new eugenol analogs (1, 3, and 4) were stable at 50 ns by molecular dynamics. Compounds 1 and 4 had the best biological activity by diet (LC50 = 0.042 mg/mL) and by topical route (LC50 = 0.027 mg/mL), respectively. At least three new eugenol derivatives possessed good-to-excellent insecticidal activity against S. frugiperda.

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Data availability

Data are available from the authors upon reasonable request.


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Correspondence to Gildardo Rivera.

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Méndez-Álvarez, D., Herrera-Mayorga, V., Juárez-Saldivar, A. et al. Ligand-based virtual screening, molecular docking, and molecular dynamics of eugenol analogs as potential acetylcholinesterase inhibitors with biological activity against Spodoptera frugiperda. Mol Divers (2021).

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  • Eugenol
  • Molecular docking
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Interaction fingerprint