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Predicting the Magnitude of σ‑Holes Using VmaxPred, a Fast and Efficient Tool Supporting the Application of Halogen Bonds in Drug Discovery

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journal contribution
posted on 24.12.2018, 00:00 by Johannes Heidrich, Thomas E. Exner, Frank M. Boeckler
Halogen bonding as a modern molecular interaction has received increasing attention not only in materials sciences but also in biological systems and drug discovery. Thus, there is a growing demand for fast, efficient, and easily applicable tailor-made tools supporting the use of halogen bonds in molecular design and medicinal chemistry. The potential strength of a halogen bond is dependent on several properties of the σ-hole donor, e.g., a (hetero)­aryl halide, and the σ-hole acceptor, a nucleophile with n or π electron density. Besides the influence of the interaction geometry and the type of acceptor, significant tuning effects on the magnitude of the σ-hole can be observed, caused by different (hetero)­aromatic scaffolds and their substitution patterns. The most positive electrostatic potential on the isodensity surface (Vmax), representing the σ-hole, has been widely used as the standard descriptor for the magnitude of the σ-hole and the strength of the halogen bond. Calculation of Vmax using quantum-mechanical methods at a reasonable level of theory is time-consuming and thus not applicable for larger numbers of compounds in drug discovery projects. Herein we present a tool for the prediction of this descriptor based on a machine-learned model with a speedup of 5 to 6 orders of magnitude relative to MP2 quantum-mechanical calculations. According to the test set, the squared correlation coefficient is greater than 0.94.