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Mol Biosyst. 2013 Oct;9(10):2435-46. doi: 10.1039/c3mb70168a.

Theoretical study on the interaction of pyrrolopyrimidine derivatives as LIMK2 inhibitors: insight into structure-based inhibitor design.

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  • 1Institute of Functional Nano & Soft Materials (FUNSOM) and Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Carbon-Based Functional Materials & Devices, Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu 215123, China.


LIM kinases (LIMKs), downstream of Rho-associated protein kinases (ROCKs) and p21-activated protein kinases (PAKs), are shown to be promising targets for the treatment of cancers. In this study, the inhibition mechanism of 41 pyrrolopyrimidine derivatives as LIMK2 inhibitors was explored through a series of theoretical approaches. First, a model of LIMK2 was generated through molecular homology modeling, and the studied inhibitors were docked into the binding active site of LIMK2 by the docking protocol, taking into consideration the flexibility of the protein. The binding poses predicted by molecular docking for 17 selected inhibitors with different bioactivities complexed with LIMK2 underwent molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and the binding free energies for the complexes were predicted by using the molecular mechanics/generalized born surface area (MM/GBSA) method. The predicted binding free energies correlated well with the experimental bioactivities (r(2) = 0.63 or 0.62). Next, the free energy decomposition analysis was utilized to highlight the following key structural features related to biological activity: (1) the important H-bond between Ile408 and pyrrolopyrimidine, (2) the H-bonds between the inhibitors and Asp469 and Gly471 which maintain the stability of the DFG-out conformation, and (3) the hydrophobic interactions between the inhibitors and several key residues (Leu337, Phe342, Ala345, Val358, Lys360, Leu389, Ile408, Leu458 and Leu472). Finally, a variety of LIMK2 inhibitors with a pyrrolopyrimidine scaffold were designed, some of which showed improved potency according to the predictions. Our studies suggest that the use of molecular docking with MD simulations and free energy calculations could be a powerful tool for understanding the binding mechanism of LIMK2 inhibitors and for the design of more potent LIMK2 inhibitors.

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