Scaffold hopping with molecular field points: identification of a cholecystokinin-2 (CCK2) receptor pharmacophore and its use in the design of a prototypical series of pyrrole- and imidazole-based CCK2 antagonists

J Med Chem. 2005 Nov 3;48(22):6790-802. doi: 10.1021/jm049069y.


A new molecular modeling approach has been used to derive a pharmacophore of the potent and selective cholecystokinin-2 (CCK(2)) receptor antagonist 5 (JB93182), based on features shared with two related series. The technique uses "field points" as simple and effective descriptions of the electrostatic and van der Waals maxima and minima surrounding a molecule equipped with XED (extended electron distribution) charges. Problems associated with the high levels of biliary elimination of 5 in vivo required us to design a compound with significantly lower molecular weight without sacrificing its nanomolar levels of in vitro activity. Two new series of compounds were designed to mimic the arrangement of field points present in the pharmacophore rather than its structural elements. In a formal sense, two of the three amides in 5 were replaced with either a simple pyrrole or imidazole, while some features thought to be essential for the high levels of in vitro activity of the parent compounds were retained and others deleted. These compounds maintained activity and selectivity for this receptor over CCK(1). In addition, the reduction in molecular weight coupled with lower polarities greatly reduced levels of biliary elimination associated with 5. This makes them good lead compounds for development of drug candidates whose structures are not obviously related to those of the parents and represents the first example of scaffold hopping using molecular field points.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Drug Design
  • Imidazoles / chemical synthesis
  • Imidazoles / chemistry*
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Pyrroles / chemical synthesis
  • Pyrroles / chemistry*
  • Pyrroles / pharmacology
  • Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Receptor, Cholecystokinin B / agonists*
  • Receptor, Cholecystokinin B / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptor, Cholecystokinin B / metabolism


  • Imidazoles
  • Pyrroles
  • Receptor, Cholecystokinin B