American Chemical Society
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Discovery and Computational Studies of Potent Covalent Kinase Inhibitors with α‑Substituent Electrophiles Targeting Cysteine

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posted on 2023-01-12, 09:14 authored by Yangcheng Ai, Zichao Yang, Zilong Yang, Shanhe Wan, Chunhui Huang, Chuan Huang, Mingxia Li, Zhonghuang Li, Jiajie Zhang, Tingting Zhang
Both reversible noncovalent inhibitors and irreversible covalent inhibitors targeting tyrosine kinases have their disadvantages. The reversible covalent inhibitors with electrophilic group cyanoacrylamide as warheads reacting with cysteine residues could solve the dilemmas. However, there are still several unresolved issues regarding the electrophilic groups. In this manuscript, a series of EGFR inhibitors with double electron-withdrawing substituents introduced into the Cα position on the olefin bond were designed and synthesized. The binding structures and characteristics of inhibitors with the kinase in both the first noncovalent binding phase and the second covalent binding step were explored and combined with molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulations. Then, the reverse β-elimination reactions of the thiol-Michael adducts were investigated by applying density functional theory calculations. In addition, the effects of different electrophilic substituents of Cα on the binding between the inhibitors and kinase were elucidated. The results suggested that the electrophilicity and size of the electron-withdrawing groups play an important role in the specific interactions during the reaction. The compounds with the electron-withdrawing groups that had medium electrostatic and steric complementarity to the kinase active site could cooperatively stabilize the complexes and showed relatively good potent activities in the kinase assay experiment. The mechanical and structural information in this study could enhance our understanding of the functioning of the electron-withdrawing groups in the covalent inhibitors. The results might help to design efficient cysteine targeting inhibitors in the future.