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1.  Ranking Ligand Affinity for the DNA Minor Groove by Experiment and Simulation 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2010;1(8):376-380.
The structural and thermodynamic basis for the strength and selectivity of the interactions of minor groove binders (MGBs) with DNA is not fully understood. In 2003, we reported the first example of a thiazole-containing MGB that bound in a phase-shifted pattern that spanned six base pairs rather than the usual four (for tricyclic distamycin-like compounds). Since then, using DNA footprinting, NMR spectroscopy, isothermal titration calorimetry, and molecular dynamics, we have established that the flanking bases around the central four being read by the ligand have subtle effects on recognition. We have investigated the effect of these flanking sequences on binding and the reasons for the differences and established a computational method to rank ligand affinity against varying DNA sequences.
doi:10.1021/ml100047n
PMCID: PMC4007966  PMID: 24900221
Ligand affinity; DNA minor groove; minor groove binders; DNA footprinting; NMR spectroscopy; isothermal titration calorimetry; molecular dynamics
2.  Structure-Based Design of Pteridine Reductase Inhibitors Targeting African Sleeping Sickness and the Leishmaniases† 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2009;53(1):221-229.
Pteridine reductase (PTR1) is a target for drug development against Trypanosoma and Leishmania species, parasites that cause serious tropical diseases and for which therapies are inadequate. We adopted a structure-based approach to the design of novel PTR1 inhibitors based on three molecular scaffolds. A series of compounds, most newly synthesized, were identified as inhibitors with PTR1-species specific properties explained by structural differences between the T. brucei and L. major enzymes. The most potent inhibitors target T. brucei PTR1, and two compounds displayed antiparasite activity against the bloodstream form of the parasite. PTR1 contributes to antifolate drug resistance by providing a molecular bypass of dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) inhibition. Therefore, combining PTR1 and DHFR inhibitors might improve therapeutic efficacy. We tested two new compounds with known DHFR inhibitors. A synergistic effect was observed for one particular combination highlighting the potential of such an approach for treatment of African sleeping sickness.
doi:10.1021/jm901059x
PMCID: PMC2804273  PMID: 19916554
3.  2,2,2-Trifluoro-N-(isoquinolin-5-ylmeth­yl)acetamide 
The mol­ecular structure of the title compound at 123 K, C12H9F3N2O, presents a rotationally disordered CF3 group. Hydrogen bonds between the amide NH group and the N atom of the isoquinoline form a chain in the b-axis direction. The packed structure forms alternate layers of isoquinoline and amide groups parallel to the ab plane.
doi:10.1107/S1600536809052994
PMCID: PMC2980156  PMID: 21580026
4.  DNA sequence recognition by an isopropyl substituted thiazole polyamide 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(11):3410-3417.
We have used DNA footprinting and fluorescence melting experiments to study the sequence-specific binding of a novel minor groove binding ligand (thiazotropsin A), containing an isopropyl substituted thiazole polyamide, to DNA. In one fragment, which contains every tetranucleotide sequence, sub-micromolar concentrations of the ligand generate a single footprint at the sequence ACTAGT. This sequence preference is confirmed in melting experiments with fluorescently labelled oligonucleotides. Experiments with DNA fragments that contain variants of this sequence suggest that the ligand also binds, with slightly lower affinity, to sequences of the type XCYRGZ, where X is any base except C, and Z is any base except G.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkh666
PMCID: PMC443542  PMID: 15247333

Results 1-4 (4)