Small molecules found in natural products provide therapeutic benefits due to their pharmacological or biological activity, which may increase or decrease the expression of human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER), a promising target in the modification of signaling cascades involved in excessive cellular growth. In this study, in silico molecular protein-ligand docking protocols were performed with AutoDock Vina in order to evaluate the interaction of 800 natural compounds (NPs) from the NatProd Collection (http://www.msdiscovery.com/natprod.html), with four human HER family members: HER1 (PDB: 2ITW), HER2 (PDB: 3PP0), HER3 (PDB: 3LMG) and HER4 (PDB: 2R4B). The best binding affinity values (kcal/mol) for docking pairs were obtained for HER1-podototarin (-10.7), HER2-hecogenin acetate (-11.2), HER3-hesperidin (-11.5) and HER4-theaflavin (-10.7). The reliability of the theoretical calculations was evaluated employing published data on HER inhibition correlated with in silico binding calculations. IC50 values followed a significant linear relationship with the theoretical binding Affinity data for HER1 (R = 0.656, p < 0.0001) and HER2 (R = 0.543, p < 0.0001), but not for HER4 (R = 0.364, p > 0.05). In short, this methodology allowed the identification of several NPs as HER inhibitors, being useful in the discovery and design of more potent and selective anticancer drugs.
Keywords: AutoDock Vina; HER receptors; molecular docking; natural compounds.