Identification of new inhibitors of Mdm2-p53 interaction via pharmacophore and structure-based virtual screening

Drug Des Devel Ther. 2018 Nov 2:12:3741-3752. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S182444. eCollection 2018.


Background: The tumor suppressor protein p53 plays an important role in preventing tumor formation and progression through its involvement in cell division control and initiation of apoptosis. Mdm2 protein controls the activity of p53 protein through working as ubiquitin E3 ligase promoting p53 degradation through the proteasome degradation pathway. Inhibitors for Mdm2-p53 interaction have restored the activity of p53 protein and induced cancer fighting properties in the cell.

Purpose: The objective of this study is to use computer-aided drug discovery techniques to search for new Mdm2-p53 interaction inhibitors.

Methods: A set of pharmacophoric features were created based on a standard Mdm2 inhibitor and this was used to screen a commercial drug-like ligand library; then potential inhibitors were docked and ranked in a multi-step protocol using GLIDE. Top ranked ligands from docking were evaluated for their inhibition activity of Mdm2-p53 interaction using ELISA testing.

Results: Several compounds showed inhibition activity at the submicromolar level, which is comparable to the standard inhibitor Nutlin-3a. Furthermore, the discovered inhibitors were evaluated for their anticancer activities against different breast cancer cell lines, and they showed an interesting inhibition pattern.

Conclusion: The reported inhibitors can represent a starting point for further SAR studies in the future and can help in the discovery of new anticancer agents.

Keywords: ELISA; Mdm2; anticancer; docking; p53; pharmacophore; protein-protein interaction; virtual screening.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemical synthesis
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Drug Discovery
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2 / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2 / metabolism
  • Pyrimidines / chemical synthesis
  • Pyrimidines / chemistry
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology*
  • Triazoles / chemical synthesis
  • Triazoles / chemistry
  • Triazoles / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / chemistry
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Pyrimidines
  • Triazoles
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • MDM2 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2