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A Fast Ab Initio Predictor Tool for Covalent Reactivity Estimation of Acrylamides

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journal contribution
posted on 27.06.2019, 00:00 by Ferruccio Palazzesi, Marc A. Grundl, Alexander Pautsch, Alexander Weber, Christofer S. Tautermann
Thanks to their unique mode of action, covalent drugs represent an exceptional opportunity for drug design. After binding to a biologically relevant target system, covalent compounds form a reversible or irreversible covalent bond with a nucleophilic amino acid. Due to the inherently large binding energy of a covalent bond, covalent binders exhibit higher potencies and thus allow potentially lower drug dosages. However, a proper balancing of compound reactivity is key for the design of covalent binders, to achieve high levels of target inhibition while minimizing promiscuous covalent binding to nontarget proteins. In this work, we demonstrated the possibility to apply the electrophilicity index concept to estimate covalent compound reactivity. We tested this approach on acrylamides, one of the most prominent classes of covalent warheads. Our study clearly demonstrated that, for compounds with molecular weight (MW) below 250 Da, the electrophilicity index can be directly used to estimate compound reactivity. On the other hand, for leadlike molecules (MW > 250 Da) we implemented a new truncation algorithm that has to be applied before reactivity calculations. This algorithm can ensure the localization of HOMO/LUMO orbitals on the compound warhead and thus a correct estimation of its reactivity. Our results also indicate that caution should be used when employing the electrophilicity index to estimate the reactivity of nonterminal acrylamides. The nonparametric nature of this method and its reasonable computational cost make it a suitable tool to support covalent drug design.