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Apr 2019 Journal of chemical information and modeling

CovaDOTS: In Silico Chemistry-Driven Tool to Design Covalent Inhibitors Using a Linking Strategy.


Hoffer L, Saez-Ayala M, Horvath D, Varnek A, Morelli X, Roche P


We recently reported an integrated fragment-based optimization strategy called DOTS (Diversity Oriented Target-focused Synthesis) that combines automated virtual screening (VS) with semirobotized organic synthesis coupled to in vitro evaluation. The molecular modeling part consists of hit-to-lead chemistry, based on the growing paradigm. Here, we have extended the applicability of the DOTS strategy by adding new functionalities, allowing a generic chemistry-driven linking approach with a particular emphasis on covalent drugs. Indeed, the covalent mode of action can be described as a specific case of linking, where suitable linkers are sought to fuse a bound organic compound with a nucleophilic protein side chain. The proof of concept is established using three retrospective study cases in which known noncovalent inhibitors have been converted to covalent inhibitors. Our method is able to automatically design reference covalent inhibitors (and/or analogs) from an initial activated substructure and predict their binding mode. More importantly, the reference compounds are ranked high among several hundred putative adducts, demonstrating the utility of the approach to design covalent inhibitors.

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