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In silico discovery of beta-secretase inhibitors

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D. Huang; U. Lüthi; P. Kolb; M. Cecchini; A. Barberis; A. Caflisch

Journal: J. Am. Chem. Soc.
Year: 2006
Volume: 128
Issue: 16
Pages: 5436-5443
DOI: 10.1021/ja0573108
Type of Publication: Journal Article

Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases; Electrochemistry; Models, Molecular; Protease Inhibitors


Alzheimer's disease, the most common amyloid-associated disorder, accounts for the majority of the dementia diagnosed after the age of 60. The cleavage of the β-amyloid precursor protein is initiated by β-secretase (BACE-1), a membrane-bound aspartic protease, which has emerged as an important but difficult protein target. Here, an in silico screening approach consisting of fragment-based docking, ligand conformational search by a genetic algorithm, and evaluation of free energy of binding was used to identify low-molecular-weight inhibitors of BACE-1. More than 300,000 small molecules were docked and about 15,000 prioritized according to a linear interaction energy model with evaluation of solvation by continuum electrostatics. Eighty-eight compounds were tested in vitro, and 10 of them showed an IC50 value lower than 100 μM in a BACE-1 enzymatic assay. Interestingly, the 10 active compounds shared a triazine scaffold. Moreover, four of them were active in an assay with mammalian cells (EC50 < 20 μM), indicating that they are cell-permeable. Therefore, these triazine derivatives are very promising lead candidates for BACE-1 inhibition. The discoveries of this series and two other series of nonpeptidic BACE-1 inhibitors demonstrate the usefulness of our in silico high-throughput screening approach.