Discovering new classes of Brugia malayi asparaginyl-tRNA synthetase inhibitors and relating specificity to conformational change

Sai Chetan K. Sukuru, Thibaut Crepin, Youli Milev, Liesl C. Marsh, Jonathan B. Hill, Regan J. Anderson, Jonathan C. Morris, Anjali Rohatgi, Gavin O'Mahony, Morten Grøtli, Franck Danel, Malcolm G.P. Page, Michael Härtlein, Stephen Cusack, Michael A. Kron, Leslie A. Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


SLIDE software, which models the flexibility of protein and ligand side chains while docking, was used to screen several large databases to identify inhibitors of Brugia malayi asparaginyl-tRNA synthetase (AsnRS), a target for anti-parasitic drug design. Seven classes of compounds identified by SLIDE were confirmed as micromolar inhibitors of the enzyme. Analogs of one of these classes of inhibitors, the long side-chain variolins, cannot bind to the adenosyl pocket of the closed conformation of AsnRS due to steric clashes, though the short side-chain variolins identified by SLIDE apparently bind isosterically with adenosine. We hypothesized that an open conformation of the motif 2 loop also permits the long side-chain variolins to bind in the adenosine pocket and that their selectivity for Brugia relative to human AsnRS can be explained by differences in the sequence and conformation of this loop. Loop flexibility sampling using Rigidity Optimized Conformational Kinetics (ROCK) confirms this possibility, while scoring of the relative affinities of the different ligands by SLIDE correlates well with the compounds' ranks in inhibition assays. Combining ROCK and SLIDE provides a promising approach for exploiting conformational flexibility in structure-based screening and design of species selective inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-178
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Anti-parasitic agents
  • Conformational flexibility
  • Docking
  • Inhibitor design
  • MSU ProFlex
  • ROCK
  • Sampling
  • Scoring
  • Screening


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