Introduction: Inhibition of the reverse transcriptase (RT) enzyme of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by low molecular weight inhibitors is still an active area of research. Here, protein-ligand interactions and possible binding modes of novel compounds with the HIV-1 RT binding pocket (the wild-type as well as Y181C and K103N mutants) were obtained and discussed.
Methods: A molecular fragment-based approach using FDA-approved drugs were followed to design novel chemical derivatives using delavirdine, efavirenz, etravirine and rilpivirine as the scaffolds. The drug-likeliness of the derivatives was evaluated using Swiss-ADME. The parent molecule and derivatives were then docked into the binding pocket of related crystal structures (PDB ID: 4G1Q, 1IKW, 1KLM and 3MEC). Genetic Optimization for Ligand Docking (GOLD) Suite 5.2.2 software was used for docking and the results analyzed in the Discovery Studio Visualizer 4. A derivative was chosen for further analysis, if it passed drug-likeliness and the docked energy was more favorable than that of its parent molecule. Out of the fifty-seven derivatives, forty-eight failed in drug-likeness screening by Swiss-ADME or at the docking stage.
Results: The final results showed that the selected compounds had higher predicted binding affinities than their parent scaffolds in both wild-type and the mutants. Binding energy improvement was higher for the structures designed based on second-generation NNRTIs (etravirine and rilpivirine) than the first-generation NNRTIs (delavirdine and efavirenz). For example, while the docked energy for rilpivirine was -51 KJ/mol, it was improved for its derivatives RPV01 and RPV15 up to - 58.3 and -54.5 KJ/mol, respectively.
Conclusion: In this study, we have identified and proposed some novel molecules with improved binding capacity for HIV RT using a fragment-based approach.
Keywords: HIV-1 RT, reverse transcriptase, molecular docking, interaction energy, gold, NNRTIs.