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J Am Chem Soc. 2008 Jul 23;130(29):9492-9. doi: 10.1021/ja8019214. Epub 2008 Jun 28.

Optimization of azoles as anti-human immunodeficiency virus agents guided by free-energy calculations.

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Department of Chemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8107, USA.


Efficient optimization of an inactive 2-anilinyl-5-benzyloxadiazole core has been guided by free energy perturbation (FEP) calculations to provide potent non-nucleoside inhibitors of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) reverse transcriptase (NNRTIs). An FEP "chlorine scan" was performed to identify the most promising sites for substitution of aryl hydrogens. This yielded NNRTIs 8 and 10 with activities (EC50) of 820 and 310 nM for protection of human T-cells from infection by wild-type HIV-1. FEP calculations for additional substituent modifications and change of the core heterocycle readily led to oxazoles 28 and 29, which were confirmed as highly potent anti-HIV agents with activities in the 10-20 nM range. The designed compounds were also monitored for possession of desirable pharmacological properties by use of additional computational tools. Overall, the trends predicted by the FEP calculations were well borne out by the assay results. FEP-guided lead optimization is confirmed as a valuable tool for molecular design including drug discovery; chlorine scans are particularly attractive since they are both straightforward to perform and highly informative.

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