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Virtual lock-and-key approach: The in silico revival of Fischer model by means of molecular descriptors

  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2011
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • Parole Chiave: Lock-and-key; Biological target; Inhibitor; Molecular descriptors; Drugs re-purposing
  • OA Link:


In the last years the application of computational methodologies in the medicinal chemistry fields has found an amazing development. All the efforts were focused on the searching of new leads featuring a close affinity on a specific biological target. Thus, different molecular modeling approaches in simulation of molecular behavior for a specific biological target were employed. In spite of the increasing reliability of computational methodologies, not always the designed lead, once synthesized and screened, are suitable for the chosen biological target. To give another chance to these compounds, this work tries to resume the old concept of Fischer lock-and-key model. The same can be done for the “re-purposing” of old drugs. In fact, it is known that drugs may have many physiological targets, therefore it may be useful to identify them. This aspect, called “polypharmacology”, is known to be therapeutically essential in the different treatments. The proposed protocol, the virtual lock-andkey approach (VLKA), consists in the “virtualization” of biological targets through the respectively known inhibitors. In order to release a real lock it is necessary the key fits the pins of the lock. The molecular descriptors could be considered as pins. A tested compound can be considered a potential inhibitor of a biological target if the values of its molecular descriptors fall in the calculated range values for the set of known inhibitors. The proposed protocol permits to transform a biological target in a “lock model” starting from its known inhibitors. To release a real lock all pins must fit. In the proposed protocol, it was supposed that the higher is the number of fit pins, the higher will be the affinity to the considered biological target. Therefore, each biological target was converted in a sequence of “weighted” molecular descriptor range values (locks) by using the structural features of the known inhibitors. Each biological target lock was tested by performing a molecular descriptors “fitting” on known inhibitors not used in the model construction (keys or test set). The results showed a good predictive capability of the protocol (confidence level 80%). This method gives interesting and convenient results because of the user-defined descriptors and biological targets choice in the process of new inhibitors discovery.