Molecular modeling calculations of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase nonnucleoside inhibitors: correlation of binding energy with biological activity for novel 2-aryl-substituted benzimidazole analogues

J Med Chem. 2003 May 8;46(10):1940-7. doi: 10.1021/jm020271f.


The energies and physical descriptors for the binding of 20 novel 1-(2,6-difluorobenzyl)-2-(2,6-difluorophenyl)benzimidazole analogues (BPBIs) to HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) have been determined using Monte Carlo (MC) simulations. The crystallographic structure of the lead compound, 1-(2,6-difluorobenzyl)-2-(2,6-difluorophenyl)-4-methylbenzimidazole, was used as a starting point to model the inhibitors in both the bound and the unbound states. The energy terms and physical descriptors obtained from the calculations were correlated with their respective experimental EC(50) values, resulting in an r(2) value of 0.70 and a root-mean-square deviation (rms) of 0.53 kcal/mol. The terms in the correlation include the change in total Coulombic energy and solvent-accessible surface area. Structural analysis of the data files from the BPBI calculations reveals that all of the analogues with good biological activity show the formation of a hydrogen bond between the ligand and the backbone nitrogen atom of lysine 103. By use of the structural results, two novel BPBI inhibitors have been designed and calculations have been carried out. The results show the formation of the desired hydrogen bonds, and the DeltaG(binding) values predict the compounds to be excellent RT inhibitors. Subsequent synthesis and biological activity testing of these analogues have shown the validity of the predictive calculations. If the BPBIs are modeled in a site constructed from the crystal coordinates of a member of another class of nonnucleoside inhibitors (the 4,5,6,7-tetrahydroimidazo[4,5,1-jk][1,4]benzodiazepine-2(1H)-thione and -one (TIBO) compounds), the correlation with the same terms drops slightly, giving an r(2) value of 0.61 with an associated root-mean-square value of 0.53 kcal/mol. Conversely, if the TIBO compounds are modeled in a site constructed from the BPBI complex crystal coordinates, a correlation can be obtained using the drug-protein interaction energy and change in the total number of hydrogen bonds, giving an r(2) value of 0.63. These are the same descriptors that were used for the TIBO compounds modeled in their own sites, where the r(2) value was 0.72. These data suggest that it may be possible, in some cases, to design novel inhibitors utilizing structural data from related, but not identical, inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Benzimidazoles / chemistry*
  • Benzodiazepines / chemistry
  • Binding Sites
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / chemistry
  • Models, Molecular
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Protein Binding
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors / chemistry*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Benzimidazoles
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • Benzodiazepines
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase