Medeiros, Alex R.  ; Ferreira, Leonardo L. G.  ; de Souza, Mariana L.  ; de Oliveira Rezende Junior, Celso  ; Espinoza-Chavez, Rocio Marisol  ; Dias, Luiz Carlos  ; Andricopulo, Adriano D. 
Natural products based on imidazole scaffolds have inspired the discovery of a wide variety of bioactive compounds. Herein, a series of imidazoles that act as competitive and potent cruzain inhibitors was investigated using a combination of ligand- and structure-based drug design strategies. Quantitative structure–activity relationships (QSARs) were generated along with the investigation of enzyme–inhibitor molecular interactions. Predictive hologram QSAR (HQSAR, r2pred = 0.80) and AutoQSAR (q2 = 0.90) models were built, and key structural properties that underpin cruzain inhibition were identified. Moreover, comparative molecular field analysis (CoMFA, r2pred = 0.81) and comparative molecular similarity indices analysis (CoMSIA, r2pred = 0.73) revealed 3D molecular features that strongly affect the activity of the inhibitors. These findings were examined along with molecular docking studies and were highly compatible with the intermolecular contacts that take place between cruzain and the inhibitors. The results gathered herein revealed the main factors that determine the activity of the imidazoles studied and provide novel knowledge for the design of improved cruzain inhibitors.
1 Laboratório de Química Medicinal e Computacional, Centro de Pesquisa e Inovação em Biodiversidade e Fármacos, Instituto de Física de São Carlos, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. João Dagnone 1100, São Carlos, SP 13563-120, Brazil
2 Instituto de Química, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, SP 13084-971, Brazil
Link to article: https://www.mdpi.com/2218-273X/11/4/579