A Teach-Discover-Treat Application of ZincPharmer: An Online Interactive Pharmacophore Modeling and Virtual Screening Tool.
ABSTRACT: The 2012 Teach-Discover-Treat (TDT) community-wide experiment provided a unique opportunity to test prospective virtual screening protocols targeting the anti-malarial target dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH). Facilitated by ZincPharmer, an open access online interactive pharmacophore search of the ZINC database, the experience resulted in the development of a novel classification scheme that successfully predicted the bound structure of a non-triazolopyrimidine inhibitor, as well as an overall hit rate of 27% of tested active compounds from multiple novel chemical scaffolds. The general approach entailed exhaustively building and screening sparse pharmacophore models comprising of a minimum of three features for each bound ligand in all available DHODH co-crystals and iteratively adding features that increased the number of known binders returned by the query. Collectively, the TDT experiment provided a unique opportunity to teach computational methods of drug discovery, develop innovative methodologies and prospectively discover new compounds active against DHODH.
Project description:Malaria kills nearly 0.5 million people yearly and impacts the lives of those living in over 90 countries where it is endemic. The current treatment programs are threatened by increasing drug resistance. Dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) is now clinically validated as a target for antimalarial drug discovery as a triazolopyrimidine class inhibitor (DSM265) is currently undergoing clinical development. We discovered a related isoxazolopyrimidine series in a phenotypic screen, later determining that it targeted DHODH. To determine if the isoxazolopyrimidines could yield a drug candidate, we initiated hit-to-lead medicinal chemistry. Several potent analogues were identified, including a compound that showed in vivo antimalarial activity. The isoxazolopyrimidines were more rapidly metabolized than their triazolopyrimidine counterparts, and the pharmacokinetic data were not consistent with the goal of a single-dose treatment for malaria.
Project description:Malaria is one of the most serious global infectious diseases. The pyrimidine biosynthetic enzyme Plasmodium falciparum dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (PfDHODH) is an important target for antimalarial chemotherapy. We describe a detailed analysis of protein-ligand interactions between DHODH and a triazolopyrimidine-based inhibitor series to explore the effects of fluorine on affinity and species selectivity. We show that increasing fluorination dramatically increases binding to mammalian DHODHs, leading to a loss of species selectivity. Triazolopyrimidines bind Plasmodium and mammalian DHODHs in overlapping but distinct binding sites. Key hydrogen-bond and stacking interactions underlying strong binding to PfDHODH are absent in the mammalian enzymes. Increasing fluorine substitution leads to an increase in the entropic contribution to binding, suggesting that strong binding to mammalian DHODH is a consequence of an enhanced hydrophobic effect upon binding to an apolar pocket. We conclude that hydrophobic interactions between fluorine and hydrocarbons provide significant binding energy to protein-ligand interactions. Our studies define the requirements for species-selective binding to PfDHODH and show that the triazolopyrimidine scaffold can alternatively be tuned to inhibit human DHODH, an important target for autoimmune diseases.
Project description:While many molecular changes associated with commonly used antimalarials are known, there remain important questions on how parasites arrive at the correct causal molecular solutions in a haploid genome. We selected for resistance to DSM1, a novel dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) inhibitor with a non-biological triazolopyrimidine scaffold, in P. falciparum with the Accelerated Resistance to Multiple Drugs (ARMD) trait. While direct sequencing revealed no mutations in the target DHODH gene, comparative genomic hybridizations from four independently selected DSM1-resistant clones showed a large, single 34-95kb amplification in each clone. Each amplified region always included the DHODH locus. The length of this region and the resulting 2- to 3-fold DHODH copy number increase were verified at the RNA and protein level. DSM1 resistance was stable over several months of in vitro culture. Additional selection at higher DSM1 concentrations caused further gains in CNVs at the DHODH locus. The present system validated DHODH as a key target of the triazolopyrimidine antimalarial, DSM1 and, more importantly, captured large, random CNVs as an early step in the initiation of drug resistance in malaria parasites. This defined system is expected to be valuable for characterizing early, causal molecular steps leading to successful drug resistance gDNA from P. falciparum DSM1 resistant cell-line was hybridized against gDNA of parental strain, Dd2. DSM1 resistant cell culture was maintained under DSM1 at 333 nM, microarray data were obtained from three hybridizations using gDNA from three independent parasite cultures
Project description:While many molecular changes associated with commonly used antimalarials are known, there remain important questions on how parasites arrive at the correct causal molecular solutions in a haploid genome. We selected for resistance to DSM1, a novel dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) inhibitor with a non-biological triazolopyrimidine scaffold, in P. falciparum with the Accelerated Resistance to Multiple Drugs (ARMD) trait. While direct sequencing revealed no mutations in the target DHODH gene, comparative genomic hybridizations from four independently selected DSM1-resistant clones showed a large, single 34-95kb amplification in each clone. Each amplified region always included the DHODH locus. The length of this region and the resulting 2- to 3-fold DHODH copy number increase were verified at the RNA and protein level. DSM1 resistance was stable over several months of in vitro culture. Additional selection at higher DSM1 concentrations caused further gains in CNVs at the DHODH locus. The present system validated DHODH as a key target of the triazolopyrimidine antimalarial, DSM1 and, more importantly, captured large, random CNVs as an early step in the initiation of drug resistance in malaria parasites. This defined system is expected to be valuable for characterizing early, causal molecular steps leading to successful drug resistance RNA from P. falciparum DSM1 resistant cell-line was hybridized against RNA of parental strain, Dd2. DSM1 resistant cell culture was maintained under DSM1 at 333 nM, microarray data were obtained from three hybridizations using RNA from three independent parasite cultures
Project description:Malaria puts at risk nearly half the world's population and causes high mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, while drug resistance threatens current therapies. The pyrimidine biosynthetic enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) is a validated target for malaria treatment based on our finding that triazolopyrimidine DSM265 (<b>1</b>) showed efficacy in clinical studies. Herein, we describe optimization of a pyrrole-based series identified using a target-based DHODH screen. Compounds with nanomolar potency versus <i>Plasmodium</i> DHODH and <i>Plasmodium</i> parasites were identified with good pharmacological properties. X-ray studies showed that the pyrroles bind an alternative enzyme conformation from <b>1</b> leading to improved species selectivity versus mammalian enzymes and equivalent activity on <i>Plasmodium falciparum</i> and <i>Plasmodium vivax</i> DHODH. The best lead DSM502 (<b>37</b>) showed <i>in vivo</i> efficacy at similar levels of blood exposure to <b>1</b>, although metabolic stability was reduced. Overall, the pyrrole-based DHODH inhibitors provide an attractive alternative scaffold for the development of new antimalarial compounds.
Project description:Plasmodium falciparum causes 1-2 million deaths annually. Yet current drug therapies are compromised by resistance. We previously described potent and selective triazolopyrimidine-based inhibitors of P. falciparum dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (PfDHODH) that inhibited parasite growth in vitro; however, they showed no activity in vivo. Here we show that lack of efficacy against P. berghei in mice resulted from a combination of poor plasma exposure and reduced potency against P. berghei DHODH. For compounds containing naphthyl (DSM1) or anthracenyl (DSM2), plasma exposure was reduced upon repeated dosing. Phenyl-substituted triazolopyrimidines were synthesized leading to identification of analogs with low predicted metabolism in human liver microsomes and which showed prolonged exposure in mice. Compound 21 (DSM74), containing p-trifluoromethylphenyl, suppressed growth of P. berghei in mice after oral administration. This study provides the first proof of concept that DHODH inhibitors can suppress Plasmodium growth in vivo, validating DHODH as a new target for antimalarial chemotherapy.
Project description:Malaria persists as one of the most devastating global infectious diseases. The pyrimidine biosynthetic enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) has been identified as a new malaria drug target, and a triazolopyrimidine-based DHODH inhibitor 1 (DSM265) is in clinical development. We sought to identify compounds with higher potency against Plasmodium DHODH while showing greater selectivity toward animal DHODHs. Herein we describe a series of novel triazolopyrimidines wherein the p-SF5-aniline was replaced with substituted 1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-2-naphthyl or 2-indanyl amines. These compounds showed strong species selectivity, and several highly potent tetrahydro-2-naphthyl derivatives were identified. Compounds with halogen substitutions displayed sustained plasma levels after oral dosing in rodents leading to efficacy in the P. falciparum SCID mouse malaria model. These data suggest that tetrahydro-2-naphthyl derivatives have the potential to be efficacious for the treatment of malaria, but due to higher metabolic clearance than 1, they most likely would need to be part of a multidose regimen.
Project description:Drug therapy is the mainstay of antimalarial therapy, yet current drugs are threatened by the development of resistance. In an effort to identify new potential antimalarials, we have undertaken a lead optimization program around our previously identified triazolopyrimidine-based series of Plasmodium falciparum dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (PfDHODH) inhibitors. The X-ray structure of PfDHODH was used to inform the medicinal chemistry program allowing the identification of a potent and selective inhibitor (DSM265) that acts through DHODH inhibition to kill both sensitive and drug resistant strains of the parasite. This compound has similar potency to chloroquine in the humanized SCID mouse P. falciparum model, can be synthesized by a simple route, and rodent pharmacokinetic studies demonstrated it has excellent oral bioavailability, a long half-life and low clearance. These studies have identified the first candidate in the triazolopyrimidine series to meet previously established progression criteria for efficacy and ADME properties, justifying further development of this compound toward clinical candidate status.
Project description:Malaria remains a major global health burden and current drug therapies are compromised by resistance. Plasmodium falciparum dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (PfDHODH) was validated as a new drug target through the identification of potent and selective triazolopyrimidine-based DHODH inhibitors with anti-malarial activity in vivo. Here we report x-ray structure determination of PfDHODH bound to three inhibitors from this series, representing the first of the enzyme bound to malaria specific inhibitors. We demonstrate that conformational flexibility results in an unexpected binding mode identifying a new hydrophobic pocket on the enzyme. Importantly this plasticity allows PfDHODH to bind inhibitors from different chemical classes and to accommodate inhibitor modifications during lead optimization, increasing the value of PfDHODH as a drug target. A second discovery, based on small molecule crystallography, is that the triazolopyrimidines populate a resonance form that promotes charge separation. These intrinsic dipoles allow formation of energetically favorable H-bond interactions with the enzyme. The importance of delocalization to binding affinity was supported by site-directed mutagenesis and the demonstration that triazolopyrimidine analogs that lack this intrinsic dipole are inactive. Finally, the PfDHODH-triazolopyrimidine bound structures provide considerable new insight into species-selective inhibitor binding in this enzyme family. Together, these studies will directly impact efforts to exploit PfDHODH for the development of anti-malarial chemotherapy.
Project description:The first challenge in the 2014 competition launched by the Teach-Discover-Treat (TDT) initiative asked for the development of a tutorial for ligand-based virtual screening, based on data from a primary phenotypic high-throughput screen (HTS) against malaria. The resulting Workflows were applied to select compounds from a commercial database, and a subset of those were purchased and tested experimentally for anti-malaria activity. Here, we present the two most successful Workflows, both using machine-learning approaches, and report the results for the 114 compounds tested in the follow-up screen. Excluding the two known anti-malarials quinidine and amodiaquine and 31 compounds already present in the primary HTS, a high hit rate of 57% was found.