Fragment Profiling Approach to Inhibitors of the Orphan <i>M. tuberculosis</i> P450 CYP144A1

Similarity between the ligand binding profiles of enzymes may aid functional characterization and be of greater relevance to inhibitor development than sequence similarity or structural homology. Fragment screening is an efficient approach for characterization of the ligand binding profile of an enzyme and has been applied here to study the family of cytochrome P450 enzymes (P450s) expressed by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (<i>Mtb</i>). The <i>Mtb</i> P450s have important roles in bacterial virulence, survival, and pathogenicity. Comparing the fragment profiles of seven of these enzymes revealed that P450s which share a similar biological function have significantly similar fragment profiles, whereas functionally unrelated or orphan P450s exhibit distinct ligand binding properties, despite overall high structural homology. Chemical structures that exhibit promiscuous binding between enzymes have been identified, as have selective fragments that could provide leads for inhibitor development. The similarity between the fragment binding profiles of the orphan enzyme CYP144A1 and CYP121A1, a characterized enzyme that is important for <i>Mtb</i> viability, provides a case study illustrating the subsequent identification of novel CYP144A1 ligands. The different binding modes of these compounds to CYP144A1 provide insight into structural and dynamic aspects of the enzyme, possible biological function, and provide the opportunity to develop inhibitors. Expanding this fragment profiling approach to include a greater number of functionally characterized and orphan proteins may provide a valuable resource for understanding enzyme–ligand interactions.