The perennial emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and its new variants causing upper respiratory
complexities since December 2019 has aggravated the pandemic situation around the world. SARSCoV-
2 encodes several proteins among which ORF8 is a novel factor that is unique to SARS-CoV-2 only
and is reported to help the virus in disease severity and immune evasion. ORF8-IRF3 complex induces
endoplasmic reticulum stress, thus helps in the evasion of immune response. Consequently, targeting
the ORF8-IRF3 complex is considered as a prime target for the discovery of novel drugs against
SARS-CoV-2. In this regard, computational methods are of great interest to fast track the identification
and development of novel drugs. Virtual screening of South African Natural Compounds Database
(SANCDB), followed by docking and molecular dynamics (MD) simulation analysis, were performed
to determine novel natural compounds. Computational molecular search and rescoring of the
SANCDB database followed by induced-fit docking (IFD) protocol identified Quercetin 3-O-(6”-
galloyl)-beta-D-galactopyranoside (SANC00850), Tribuloside (SANC01050), and Rutin (SANC00867)
are the best scoring compounds. Structural-dynamic properties assessment revealed that these
three compounds have stable dynamics, compactness, and a higher number of hydrogen bonds.
For validation, we used MM/GBSA, in silico bioactivity estimation and dissociation constant (KD)
approaches, which revealed that these compounds are the more potent inhibitors of the ORF8-IRF3
complex and would rescue the host immune system potentially. These compounds need further
in vitro and in vivo validations to be used as therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2 to rescue the host
immune system during COVID-19 infection.
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