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Intramolecular Hydrogen Bonding in Medicinal Chemistry

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journal contribution
posted on 25.03.2010, 00:00 by Bernd Kuhn, Peter Mohr, Martin Stahl
The formation of intramolecular hydrogen bonds has a very pronounced effect on molecular structure and properties. We study both aspects in detail with the aim of enabling a more rational use of this class of interactions in medicinal chemistry. On the basis of exhaustive searches in crystal structure databases, we derive propensities for intramolecular hydrogen bond formation of five- to eight-membered ring systems of relevance in drug discovery. A number of motifs, several of which are clearly underutilized in drug discovery, are analyzed in more detail by comparing small molecule and protein−ligand X-ray structures. To investigate effects on physicochemical properties, sets of closely related structures with and without the ability to form intramolecular hydrogen bonds were designed, synthesized, and characterized with respect to membrane permeability, water solubility, and lipophilicity. We find that changes in these properties depend on a subtle balance between the strength of the hydrogen bond interaction, geometry of the newly formed ring system, and the relative energies of the open and closed conformations in polar and unpolar environments. A number of general guidelines for medicinal chemists emerge from this study.