Introduction: The glycolytic enzyme fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase is a validated molecular
target in human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) drug discovery, a neglected tropical disease
(NTD) caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma brucei. Herein, a structure-based virtual screening
(SBVS) approach to the identification of novel T. brucei aldolase inhibitors is described. Distinct molecular
docking algorithms were used to screen more than 500,000 compounds against the X-ray structure
of the enzyme. This SBVS strategy led to the selection of a series of molecules which were evaluated
for their activity on recombinant T. brucei aldolase. The effort led to the discovery of structurally
new ligands able to inhibit the catalytic activity of the enzyme.
Results: The predicted binding conformations were additionally investigated in molecular dynamics
simulations, which provided useful insights into the enzyme-inhibitor intermolecular interactions.
Conclusion: The molecular modeling results along with the enzyme inhibition data generated practical
knowledge to be explored in further structure-based drug design efforts in HAT drug discovery.