Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Molecular, Cellular, & Biomedical Sciences

Program or Major

Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Krisztina Varga


The rapid spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic has claimed the lives of roughly 6.2 million people worldwide as of May 2022. The virus’s main protease (Mpro ) has been identified as an attractive drug target due to the critical role it plays in the viral life cycle. The roughly 34 kDa Mpro cleaves functional viral polypeptides out of two long polyproteins at conserved cut sites, allowing them to fulfill their role in processes like transcription and replication. Here, we have studied the enzymatic activity and inhibition of Mpro and tested known (carmofur, ebselen, and tideglusib) and novel (CCG-50014, and CCG-203769) inhibitors using fluorescence spectroscopy. We report both the catalytic efficiency of Mpro (Kcat / KM = 27,900 M-1 s-1 M-1 s-1) and the IC50 values measured for tideglusib and ebselen (1.39 ± 0.2 µM and 0.40 ± 0.05 µM respectively) to be comparable to values published by Jin et al. [13]. We also report that the novel CCG-50014 has comparable IC50 value (1.39 ± 0.22 µM) to known inhibitors of this enzyme.