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J Med Chem. 2009 May 14;52(9):2683-93. doi: 10.1021/jm800963t.

Structure-based design, synthesis, and characterization of inhibitors of human and Plasmodium falciparum dihydroorotate dehydrogenases.

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School of Chemistry, Faculty of Biological Sciences, and Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.


Pyrimidine biosynthesis is an attractive drug target in a variety of organisms, including humans and the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Dihydroorotate dehydrogenase, an enzyme catalyzing the only redox reaction of the pyrimidine biosynthesis pathway, is a well-characterized target for chemotherapeutical intervention. In this study, we have applied SPROUT-LeadOpt, a software package for structure-based drug discovery and lead optimization, to improve the binding of the active metabolite of the anti-inflammatory drug leflunomide to the target cavities of the P. falciparum and human dihydroorotate dehydrogenases. Following synthesis of a library of compounds based upon the SPROUT-optimized molecular scaffolds, a series of inhibitors generally showing good inhibitory activity was obtained, in keeping with the SPROUT-LeadOpt predictions. Furthermore, cocrystal structures of five of these SPROUT-designed inhibitors bound in the ubiquinone binding cavity of the human dihydroorotate dehydrogenase are also analyzed.

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