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Multi-Pharmacophore Modeling of Caspase-3 Inhibitors using Crystal, Dock and Flexible Conformation Schemes


Sivakumar Prasanth Kumar* and Prakash C Jha   Pages 1 - 15 ( 15 )


Aim and Objective: Numerous caspase-3 drug discovery projects were found to have relied on single receptor as the template to recognize most promising small molecule candidates using docking approach. Alternatively, some researchers were contingent upon ligand-based alignment to build up an empirical relationship between ligand functional groups and caspase-3 inhibitory activity quantitatively. To connect both caspase-3 receptor details and its inhibitors chemical functionalities, this study was undertaken to develop receptor- and ligand-pharmacophore models based on different conformational schemes.

Material and Methods: A multi-pharmacophore modeling strategy is carried out based on three conformational schemes of pharmacophore hypothesis generation to screen caspase-3 inhibitors from database. The schemes include (i) flexible (conformations unrestricted or flexible during pharmacophore mapping), (ii) dock (conformations obtained using FlexX docking method) and (iii) crystal (extracted from multiple caspase-3-ligand complexes from PDB repository) conformations of query ligands. The pharmacophore models developed using these conformational schemes were then used to identify probable caspase-3 inhibitors from ZINC database.

Results: We noticed better sensitivity with good specificity measures returned by candidate pharmacophore hypotheses across each conformation type and recognized crucial pharmacophore features that enable caspase-3 binding. Pharmacophore modeling based on flexible conformational scheme indicated that the crystal structure 3KJF (AAAADH) is the best receptor structure to perform receptor-based pharmacophore screening of caspase-3 inhibitors. When multiple crystal structures were included, the hypothesis (HAAA) is more generalized. Superimposition of multiple co-crystal ligands from various caspase-3 PDB entries in crystallographic binding mode revealed similar hypothesis (HAAA). Further, FlexX-guided dock conformations of validation dataset showed that the crystal structure 1RE1 is the best-suited for dock-based pharmacophore models. Database screening using these pharmacophore hypotheses identified N'-[6-(benzimidazol-1-yl)-5-nitro-pyrimidin-4-yl]-4 methylbenzenesulfonohydrazide and 2-nitro-N'-[5-nitro-6-[N'-(p-tolylsulfonyl)hydrazino]pyrimidin-4- yl]benzohydrazide as the probable caspase-3 inhibitors.

Conclusion: N'-[6-(benzimidazol-1-yl)-5-nitro-pyrimidin-4-yl]-4 methylbenzenesulfonohydrazide and 2-nitro-N'-[5-nitro-6-[N'-(p-tolylsulfonyl)hydrazino]pyrimidin-4-yl]benzohydrazide may be tested for caspase-3 inhibition. We believe that potential caspase-3 inhibitors can be recognized efficiently by adapting multi-pharmacophore models in database screening.


caspase-3, pharmacophore modeling, conformational space explorations, docking, apoptosis.


School of Chemical Sciences, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar - 382030, Gujarat, School of Chemical Sciences, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar - 382030, Gujarat

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