In order to explore the structure-activity correlation of benzothiadiazine series as inhibitors of genotype 1a HCV polymerase, a set of ligand- and receptor-based 3D-QSAR models were, for the first time, developed in the present work employing Comparative Molecular Field Analysis (CoMFA) and Comparative Molecular Similarity Index Analysis (CoMSIA) for 239 promising molecules. In addition, homology modeling, docking analysis, and molecular dynamics simulation (MD) were also applied to elucidate the probable binding modes of these inhibitors at the allosteric site of the enzyme. The statistical model validations assure the reliability of the obtained QSAR models. Changes in the binding affinity of the inhibitors attributing to modifications in the aromatic rings could be rationalized by the steric, electrostatic, hydrophobic, and hydrogen bond acceptor properties. (i) Hydrophobic substituents with similar size of benzo group like isosteres are preferential at positions 1 and 2 (ring B of benzothiadiazines). (ii) Substituents at position-3 containing a linear alkyl chain (four or five carbon atoms) or a branched alkyl chain (five-eight carbons) can increase the inhibitory activity by one to two orders of magnitude. (iii) A polar substituent like methanesulfonamide group at position-14 can enhance the activity of the drug by providing a hydrogen bonding interaction with the protein target. The results obtained from this work provide important guidelines in design of novel benzothiadiazine analogs as inhibitors of HCV genotype 1a NS5B.
Keywords: HCV NS5B, benzothiadiazine analogs, allosteric site, 3D-QSAR, CoMFA, CoMSIA, molecular docking, molecular dynamics
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