UDP glucurononosyltransferases (UGT) are a superfamily of enzymes that catalyse the conjugation of a range of structurally diverse drugs, environmental and endogenous chemicals with glucuronic acid. This process plays a significant role in the clearance and detoxification of many chemicals. Over the last decade the regulation and substrate profiles of UGT isoforms have been increasingly characterised. The resulting data has facilitated the prototyping of ligand based in silico models capable of predicting, and gaining insights into, binding affinity and the substrate- and regio- selectivity of glucuronidation by UGT isoforms. Pharmacophore modelling has produced particularly insightful models and quantitative structure-activity relationships based on machine learning algorithms result in accurate predictions. Simple structural chemical descriptors were found to capture much of the chemical information relevant to UGT metabolism. However, quantum chemical properties of molecules and the nucleophilic atoms in the molecule can enhance both the predictivity and chemical intuitiveness of structure-activity models. Chemical diversity analysis of known substrates has shown some bias towards chemicals with aromatic and aliphatic hydroxyl groups. Future progress in in silico development will depend on larger and more diverse high quality metabolic datasets. Furthermore, improved protein structure data on UGTs will enable the application of structural modelling techniques likely leading to greater insight into the binding and reactive processes of UGT catalysed glucuronidation.
Keywords: Glucuronidation, UDP glucuronosyltransferase, drug metabolism, drug discovery, ADME, in silico, reaction phenotyping, substrate selectivity, regioselectivity, QSAR
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