Journal of computer-aided molecular design

An approach to computer-aided inhibitor design: application to cathepsin L.

PMID 1517775


We have developed an approach to search for molecules that can be used as lead compounds in designing an inhibitor for a given proteolytic enzyme when the 3D structure of a homologous protein is known. This approach is based on taking the cast of the binding pocket of the protease and comparing its dimensions with that of the dimensions of small molecules. Herein the 3D structure of papain is used to model cathepsin L using the comparative modeling technique. The cast of the binding pocket is computed using the crystal structure of papain because the structures of papain and the model of cathepsin L are found to be similar at the binding site. The dimensions of the cast of the binding site of papain are used to screen for molecules from the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD) of small molecules. Twenty molecules out of the 80,000 small molecules in the CSD are found to have dimensions that are accommodated by the papain binding pocket. Visual comparison of the shapes of the cast and the 20 screened molecules resulted in identifying brevotoxin b, a toxin isolated from the 'red tide' dinoflagellate Ptycho brevis (previously classified as Gymonodium breve), as the structure that best fits the binding pocket of papain. We tested the proteolytic activity of papain and cathepsin L in the presence of brevotoxin b and found inhibition of papain and cathepsin L with Kis of 25 microM and 0.6 microM, respectively. We also compare our method with a more elaborate method in the literature, by presenting our results on the computer search for inhibitors of the HIV-1 protease.