Virtual Screening of a Library of Naturally Occurring Anthraquinones for Potential Anti-Fouling Agents

Gagan Preet, Rishi Vachaspathy Astakala, Jessica Gomez-Banderas, Joy Ebenezer Rajakulendran, Ahlam Haj Hasan, Rainer Ebel, Marcel Jaspars

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Marine biofouling is the undesired accumulation of organic molecules, microorganisms, macroalgae, marine invertebrates, and their by-products on submerged surfaces. It is a serious challenge for marine vessels and the oil, gas, and renewable energy industries, as biofouling can cause economic losses for these industries. Natural products have been an abundant source of therapeutics since the start of civilisation. Their use as novel anti-fouling agents is a promising approach for replacing currently used, harmful anti-fouling agents. Anthraquinones (AQs) have been used for centuries in the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and paint industries. Citreorosein and emodin are typical additives used in the anti-fouling paint industry to help improve the global problem of biofouling. This study is based on our previous study, in which we presented the promising activity of structurally related anthraquinone compounds against biofilm-forming marine bacteria. To help uncover the anti-fouling potential of other AQ-related structures, 2194 compounds from the COCONUT natural products database were analysed. Molecular docking analysis was performed to assess the binding strength of these compounds to the LuxP protein in Vibrio carchariae. The LuxP protein is a vital binding protein responsible for the movements of autoinducers within the quorum sensing system; hence, interrupting the process at an early stage could be an effective strategy. Seventy-six AQ structures were found to be highly docked, and eight of these structures were used in structure-based pharmacophore modelling, resulting in six unique pharmacophore features.
Original languageEnglish
Article number995
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

A sincere thanks to Mehak Sharma and Varship Creations, India, for their constructive suggestions. Additionally, thank you to Nidhan Singh Oberoi and Albrn Care, India.

This research received no external funding.

Data Availability Statement

Data Availability Statement: Not applicable.


  • anthraquinones
  • anti-fouling
  • biofouling
  • citreorosein
  • emodin
  • in silico
  • marine
  • molecular docking
  • paints
  • pharmacophore
  • repurposing
  • virtual screening


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