An integrated in silico screening strategy for identifying promising disruptors of p53-MDM2 interaction.Comput Biol Chem. 2019 Dec; 83:107105.CB
The p53 protein, also called guardian of the genome, plays a critical role in the cell cycle regulation and apoptosis. This protein is frequently inactivated in several types of human cancer by abnormally high levels of its negative regulator, mouse double minute 2 (MDM2). As a result, restoration of p53 function by inhibiting p53-MDM2 protein-protein interaction has been pursued as a compelling strategy for cancer therapy. To date, a limited number of small-molecules have been reported as effective p53-MDM2 inhibitors. X-ray structures of MDM2 in complex with some ligands are available in Protein Data Bank and herein, these data have been exploited to efficiently identify new p53-MDM2 interaction antagonists through a hierarchical virtual screening strategy. For this purpose, the first step was aimed at compiling a focused library of 686,630 structurally suitable compounds, from PubChem database, similar to two known effective inhibitors, Nutlin-3a and DP222669. These compounds were subjected to the subsequent structure-based approaches (quantum polarized ligand docking and molecular dynamics simulation) to select potential compounds with highest binding affinity for MDM2 protein. Additionally, ligand binding energy, ADMET properties and PAINS analysis were also considered as filtering criteria for selecting the most promising drug-like molecules. On the basis of these analyses, three top-ranked hit molecules, CID_118439641, CID_60452010 and CID_3106907, were found to have acceptable pharmacokinetics properties along with superior in silico inhibitory ability towards the p53-MDM2 interaction compared to known inhibitors. Molecular docking and molecular dynamics results well confirmed the interactions of the final selected compounds with critical residues within p53 binding site on the MDM2 hydrophobic clefts with satisfactory thermodynamics stability. Consequently, the new final scaffolds identified by the presented computational approach could offer a set of guidelines for designing promising anti-cancer agents targeting p53-MDM2 interaction.