Identification of Novel Cathepsin B Inhibitors with Implications in Alzheimer’s Disease: Computational Refining and Biochemical Evaluation

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Cells, 10, (8), pp. 1946-1946
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Amyloid precursor protein (APP), upon proteolytic degradation, forms aggregates of amyloid β (Aβ) and plaques in the brain, which are pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Cathepsin B is a cysteine protease enzyme that catalyzes the proteolytic degradation of APP in the brain. Thus, cathepsin B inhibition is a crucial therapeutic aspect for the discovery of new anti-Alzheimer’s drugs. In this study, we have employed mixed-feature ligand-based virtual screening (LBVS) by integrating pharmacophore mapping, docking, and molecular dynamics to detect small, potent molecules that act as cathepsin B inhibitors. The LBVS model was generated by using hydrophobic (HY), hydrogen bond acceptor (HBA), and hydrogen bond donor (HBD) features, using a dataset of 24 known cathepsin B inhibitors of both natural and synthetic origins. A validated eight-feature pharmacophore hypothesis (Hypo III) was utilized to screen the Maybridge chemical database. The docking score, MM-PBSA, and MM-GBSA methodology was applied to prioritize the lead compounds as virtual screening hits. These compounds share a common amide scaffold, and showed important interactions with Gln23, Cys29, His110, His111, Glu122, His199, and Trp221. The identified inhibitors were further evaluated for cathepsin-B-inhibitory activity. Our study suggests that pyridine, acetamide, and benzohydrazide compounds could be used as a starting point for the development of novel therapeutics.
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