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J Med Chem. 2013 Oct 24;56(20):8073-88. doi: 10.1021/jm4011302. Epub 2013 Oct 3.

Discovery of novel small-molecule inhibitors of BRD4 using structure-based virtual screening.

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Division of Cancer Therapeutics, Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit, The Institute of Cancer Research , 15 Cotswold Road, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5NG, United Kingdom.


Bromodomains (BRDs) are epigenetic readers that recognize acetylated-lysine (KAc) on proteins and are implicated in a number of diseases. We describe a virtual screening approach to identify BRD inhibitors. Key elements of this approach are the extensive design and use of substructure queries to compile a set of commercially available compounds featuring novel putative KAc mimetics and docking this set for final compound selection. We describe the validation of this approach by applying it to the first BRD of BRD4. The selection and testing of 143 compounds lead to the discovery of six novel hits, including four unprecedented KAc mimetics. We solved the crystal structure of four hits, determined their binding mode, and improved their potency through synthesis and the purchase of derivatives. This work provides a validated virtual screening approach that is applicable to other BRDs and describes novel KAc mimetics that can be further explored to design more potent inhibitors.

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