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J Biol Chem. 1996 Sep 27;271(39):23646-9.

Highly potent, selective, and low cost bis-tetrahydroaminacrine inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase. Steps toward novel drugs for treating Alzheimer's disease.

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Neurochemistry Research, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Jacksonville, Florida 32224, USA.


We report highly potent, selective, and low cost bifunctional acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors developed by our two-step prototype optimization strategy utilizing computer modeling of ligand docking with target proteins: 1) identify low affinity sites normally missed by x-ray crystallography; and 2) design bifunctional analogs capable of simultaneous binding at the computer-determined low affinity site and the x-ray-identified high affinity site. Applying this strategy to 9-amino-1,2,3,4-tetrahydroacridine (THA), a drug for Alzheimer's disease, we obtained alkylene linked bis-THA analogs. These analogs were up to 10,000-fold more selective and 1,000-fold more potent than THA in inhibiting rat AChE and yet required one simple reaction to synthesize. Additionally, alkylene linked benzyl-THA analogs were developed to examine the specificity of the docking-derived low affinity THA peripheral site in AChE. The present work and our previous computational studies strongly suggest that a low affinity THA peripheral site exists in AChE. This peripheral site provides a structural basis for design of improved cholinesterase ligands for treating Alzheimer's disease and for other health-related purposes.

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