Contributions of experimental and selected theoretical charge-density research to medicinal chemistry are reviewed; combining experimental methods from high-resolution small-molecule and macromolecular crystallography with theory proves to be fruitful.
This article reviews efforts in accurate experimental charge-density studies with relevance to medicinal chemistry. Initially, classical charge-density studies that measure electron density distribution via least-squares refinement of aspherical-atom population parameters are summarized. Next, interaction density is discussed as an idealized situation resembling drug–receptor interactions. Scattering-factor databases play an increasing role in charge-density research, and they can be applied both to small-molecule and macromolecular structures in refinement and analysis; software development facilitates their use. Therefore combining both of these complementary branches of X-ray crystallography is recommended, and examples are given where such a combination already proved useful. On the side of the experiment, new pixel detectors are allowing rapid measurements, thereby enabling both high-throughput small-molecule studies and macromolecular structure determination to higher resolutions. Currently, the most ambitious studies compute intermolecular interaction energies of drug–receptor complexes, and it is recommended that future studies benefit from recent method developments. Selected new developments in theoretical charge-density studies are discussed with emphasis on its symbiotic relation to crystallography.
charge-density research; medicinal chemistry; drug design; invariom; Hansen–Coppens multipole model; quantum theory of atoms in molecules
The new automated iterative Hirshfeld atom refinement method is explained and validated through comparison of structural models of Gly–l-Ala obtained from synchrotron X-ray and neutron diffraction data at 12, 50, 150 and 295 K. Structural parameters involving hydrogen atoms are determined with comparable precision from both experiments and agree mostly to within two combined standard uncertainties.
Hirshfeld atom refinement (HAR) is a method which determines structural parameters from single-crystal X-ray diffraction data by using an aspherical atom partitioning of tailor-made ab initio quantum mechanical molecular electron densities without any further approximation. Here the original HAR method is extended by implementing an iterative procedure of successive cycles of electron density calculations, Hirshfeld atom scattering factor calculations and structural least-squares refinements, repeated until convergence. The importance of this iterative procedure is illustrated via the example of crystalline ammonia. The new HAR method is then applied to X-ray diffraction data of the dipeptide Gly–l-Ala measured at 12, 50, 100, 150, 220 and 295 K, using Hartree–Fock and BLYP density functional theory electron densities and three different basis sets. All positions and anisotropic displacement parameters (ADPs) are freely refined without constraints or restraints – even those for hydrogen atoms. The results are systematically compared with those from neutron diffraction experiments at the temperatures 12, 50, 150 and 295 K. Although non-hydrogen-atom ADPs differ by up to three combined standard uncertainties (csu’s), all other structural parameters agree within less than 2 csu’s. Using our best calculations (BLYP/cc-pVTZ, recommended for organic molecules), the accuracy of determining bond lengths involving hydrogen atoms from HAR is better than 0.009 Å for temperatures of 150 K or below; for hydrogen-atom ADPs it is better than 0.006 Å2 as judged from the mean absolute X-ray minus neutron differences. These results are among the best ever obtained. Remarkably, the precision of determining bond lengths and ADPs for the hydrogen atoms from the HAR procedure is comparable with that from the neutron measurements – an outcome which is obtained with a routinely achievable resolution of the X-ray data of 0.65 Å.
aspherical atom partitioning; quantum mechanical molecular electron densities; X-ray structure refinement; hydrogen atom modelling; anisotropic displacement parameters
The structure solution of DNA-binding protein structures and complexes based on the combination of location of DNA-binding protein motif fragments with density modification in a multi-solution frame is described.
Protein–DNA interactions play a major role in all aspects of genetic activity within an organism, such as transcription, packaging, rearrangement, replication and repair. The molecular detail of protein–DNA interactions can be best visualized through crystallography, and structures emphasizing insight into the principles of binding and base-sequence recognition are essential to understanding the subtleties of the underlying mechanisms. An increasing number of high-quality DNA-binding protein structure determinations have been witnessed despite the fact that the crystallographic particularities of nucleic acids tend to pose specific challenges to methods primarily developed for proteins. Crystallographic structure solution of protein–DNA complexes therefore remains a challenging area that is in need of optimized experimental and computational methods. The potential of the structure-solution program ARCIMBOLDO for the solution of protein–DNA complexes has therefore been assessed. The method is based on the combination of locating small, very accurate fragments using the program Phaser and density modification with the program SHELXE. Whereas for typical proteins main-chain α-helices provide the ideal, almost ubiquitous, small fragments to start searches, in the case of DNA complexes the binding motifs and DNA double helix constitute suitable search fragments. The aim of this work is to provide an effective library of search fragments as well as to determine the optimal ARCIMBOLDO strategy for the solution of this class of structures.
protein–DNA complexes and macromolecule structure solutions; structure-solution pipelines; molecular replacement; density modification
The temperature dependence of hydrogen U
iso and parent U
eq in the riding hydrogen model is investigated by neutron diffraction, aspherical-atom refinements and QM/MM and MO/MO cluster calculations. Fixed values of 1.2 or 1.5 appear to be underestimated, especially at temperatures below 100 K.
The temperature dependence of H-U
iso in N-acetyl-l-4-hydroxyproline monohydrate is investigated. Imposing a constant temperature-independent multiplier of 1.2 or 1.5 for the riding hydrogen model is found to be inaccurate, and severely underestimates H-U
iso below 100 K. Neutron diffraction data at temperatures of 9, 150, 200 and 250 K provide benchmark results for this study. X-ray diffraction data to high resolution, collected at temperatures of 9, 30, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200 and 250 K (synchrotron and home source), reproduce neutron results only when evaluated by aspherical-atom refinement models, since these take into account bonding and lone-pair electron density; both invariom and Hirshfeld-atom refinement models enable a more precise determination of the magnitude of H-atom displacements than independent-atom model refinements. Experimental efforts are complemented by computing displacement parameters following the TLS+ONIOM approach. A satisfactory agreement between all approaches is found.
riding hydrogen model; QM/MM computations; neutron diffraction; invariom refinement; Hirshfeld-atom refinement; synchrotron radiation
An extension is proposed to the rigid-bond description of atomic thermal motion in crystals.
The rigid-bond model [Hirshfeld (1976 ▶). Acta Cryst. A32, 239–244] states that the mean-square displacements of two atoms are equal in the direction of the bond joining them. This criterion is widely used for verification (as intended by Hirshfeld) and also as a restraint in structure refinement as suggested by Rollett [Crystallographic Computing (1970 ▶), edited by F. R. Ahmed et al., pp. 167–181. Copenhagen: Munksgaard]. By reformulating this condition, so that the relative motion of the two atoms is required to be perpendicular to the bond, the number of restraints that can be applied per anisotropic atom is increased from about one to about three. Application of this condition to 1,3-distances in addition to the 1,2-distances means that on average just over six restraints can be applied to the six anisotropic displacement parameters of each atom. This concept is tested against very high resolution data of a small peptide and employed as a restraint for protein refinement at more modest resolution (e.g. 1.7 Å).
rigid-bond test; refinement restraints; anisotropic displacement parameters
ShelXle is a user-friendly graphical user interface for SHELXL. It combines an editor with syntax highlighting for SHELXL-associated files with an interactive graphical display for visualization of a three-dimensional structure.
ShelXle is a graphical user interface for SHELXL [Sheldrick, G. M. (2008). Acta Cryst. A64, 112–122], currently the most widely used program for small-molecule structure refinement. It combines an editor with syntax highlighting for the SHELXL-associated .ins (input) and .res (output) files with an interactive graphical display for visualization of a three-dimensional structure including the electron density (F
o) and difference density (F
c) maps. Special features of ShelXle include intuitive atom (re-)naming, a strongly coupled editor, structure visualization in various mono and stereo modes, and a novel way of displaying disorder extending over special positions. ShelXle is completely compatible with all features of SHELXL and is written entirely in C++ using the Qt4 and FFTW libraries. It is available at no cost for Windows, Linux and Mac-OS X and as source code.
molecule viewers; electron density maps; syntax highlighting; isosurfaces; SHELX; SHELXL; graphical user interfaces
MoleCoolQt is a molecule viewer designed for experimental charge density studies with a user-friendly graphical user interface.
MoleCoolQt is a molecule viewer for charge-density research. Features include the visualization of local atomic coordinate systems in multipole refinements based on the Hansen and Coppens formalism as implemented, for example, in the XD suite. Residual peaks and holes from XDfft are translated so that they appear close to the nearest atom of the asymmetric unit. Critical points from a topological analysis of the charge density can also be visualized. As in the program MolIso, color-mapped isosurfaces can be generated with a simple interface. Apart from its visualization features the program interactively helps in assigning local atomic coordinate systems and local symmetry, which can be automatically detected and altered. Dummy atoms – as sometimes required for local atomic coordinate systems – are calculated on demand; XD system files are updated after changes. When using the invariom database, potential scattering factor assignment problems can be resolved by the use of an interactive dialog. The following file formats are supported: XD, MoPro, SHELX, GAUSSIAN (com, FChk, cube), CIF and PDB. MoleCoolQt is written in C++ using the Qt4 library, has a user-friendly graphical user interface, and is available for several flavors of Linux, Windows and MacOS.
MoleCoolQt; charge density; visualization software
In a screening for natural products with mosquito larvicidal activities, the endophytic fungus Podospora sp. isolated from the plant Laggera alata (Asteraceae) was conspicuous. Two xanthones, sterigmatocystin (1) and secosterigmatocystin (2), and an anthraquinone derivative (3) 13-hydroxyversicolorin B were isolated after fermentation on M2 medium. These compounds were characterised using spectroscopic and X-ray analysis and examined against third instar larvae of Anopheles gambiae. The results demonstrated that compound 1 was the most potent one with LC50 and LC90 values of 13.3 and 73.5 ppm, respectively. Over 95% mortality was observed at a concentration 100 ppm after 24 h. These results compared farvourably with the commercial larvicide pylarvex® that showed 100% mortality at the same concentration. Compound 3 was less potent and had an LC50 of 294.5 ppm and over 95% mortality was achieved at a concentration of 1,000 ppm. Secosterigmatocystin (2) revealed relatively weak activity and therefore LC values were not determined.
The structure of the title compound, C17H18FN3O3·6H2O, has been redetermined at 120 K. An invariom refinement, a structural refinement using aspherical scattering factors from theoretically predicted multipole population parameters, yields accurate geometry and anisotropic displacement parameters, including hydrogen-bonding parameters. All potential hydrogen-bond donors and acceptors are involved in hydrogen bonding, forming an intricate three-dimensional network of N—H⋯O and O—H⋯O bonds.