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J Med Chem. 2004 Aug 12;47(17):4258-67.

Three-dimensional quantitative structure-activity relationship analysis of a set of Plasmodium falciparum dihydrofolate reductase inhibitors using a pharmacophore generation approach.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Farmaceutiche, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 183, 41100 Modena, Italy.


A 3D pharmacophore model able to quantitatively predict inhibition constants was derived for a series of inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum dihydrofolate reductase (PfDHFR), a validated target for antimalarial therapy. The data set included 52 inhibitors, with 23 of these comprising the training set and 29 an external test set. The activity range, expressed as Ki, of the training set molecules was from 0.3 to 11 300 nM. The 3D pharmacophore, generated with the HypoGen module of Catalyst 4.7, consisted of two hydrogen bond donors, one positive ionizable feature, one hydrophobic aliphatic feature, and one hydrophobic aromatic feature and provided a 3D-QSAR model with a correlation coefficient of 0.954. Importantly, the type and spatial location of the chemical features encoded in the pharmacophore were in full agreement with the key binding interactions of PfDHFR inhibitors as previously established by molecular modeling and crystallography of enzyme-inhibitor complexes. The model was validated using several techniques, namely, Fisher's randomization test using CatScramble, leave-one-out test to ensure that the QSAR model is not strictly dependent on one particular compound of the training set, and activity prediction in an external test set of compounds. In addition, the pharmacophore was able to correctly classify as active and inactive the dihydrofolate reductase and aldose reductase inhibitors extracted from the MDDR database, respectively. This test was performed in order to challenge the predictive ability of the pharmacophore with two classes of inhibitors that target very different binding sites. Molecular diversity of the data sets was finally estimated by means of the Tanimoto approach. The results obtained provide confidence for the utility of the pharmacophore in the virtual screening of libraries and databases of compounds to discover novel PfDHFR inhibitors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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