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Chem Biol Drug Des. 2010 Sep 1;76(3):218-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-0285.2010.01010.x. Epub 2010 Jul 5.

Fragment-based discovery of novel thymidylate synthase leads by NMR screening and group epitope mapping.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Box 351700, Seattle, WA 98195-1700, USA.


Solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a versatile tool for the study of binding interactions between small molecules and macromolecular targets. We applied ligand-based NMR techniques to the study of human thymidylate synthase (hTS) using known nanomolar inhibitors and a library of small molecule fragments. Screening by NMR led to the rapid identification of ligand pairs that bind in proximal sites within the cofactor-binding pocket of hTS. Screening hits were used as search criteria within commercially available sources, and a subset of catalog analogs were tested for potency by in vitro assay and binding affinity by quantitative saturation transfer difference (STD)-NMR titration. Two compounds identified by this approach possess low micromolar affinity and potency, as well as excellent binding efficiency against hTS. Relative binding orientations for both leads were modeled using AutoDock, and the most likely bound conformations were validated using experimentally derived STD-NMR binding epitope data. These ligands represent novel starting points for fragment-based drug design of non-canonical TS inhibitors, and their binding epitopes highlight important and previously unexploited interactions with conserved residues in the cofactor-binding site.

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