Systematic Analysis of Covalent and Allosteric Protein Kinase Inhibitors

In drug discovery, protein kinase inhibitors (PKIs) are intensely investigated as drug candidates in different therapeutic areas. While ATP site-directed, non-covalent PKIs have long been a focal point in protein kinase (PK) drug discovery, in recent years, there has been increasing interest in allosteric PKIs (APKIs), which are expected to have high kinase selectivity. In addition, as compounds acting by covalent mechanisms experience a renaissance in drug discovery, there is also increasing interest in covalent PKIs (CPKIs). There are various reasons for this increasing interest such as the anticipated high potency, prolonged residence times compared to non-competitive PKIs, and other favorable pharmacokinetic properties. Due to the popularity of PKIs for therapeutic intervention, large numbers of PKIs and large volumes of activity data have accumulated in the public domain, providing a basis for large-scale computational analysis. We have systematically searched for CPKIs containing different reactive groups (warheads) and investigated their potency and promiscuity (multi-PK activity) on the basis of carefully curated activity data. For seven different warheads, sufficiently large numbers of CPKIs were available for detailed follow-up analysis. For only three warheads, the median potency of corresponding CPKIs was significantly higher than of non-covalent PKIs. However, for CKPIs with five of seven warheads, there was a significant increase in the median potency of at least 100-fold compared to PKI analogues without warheads. However, in the analysis of multi-PK activity, there was no general increase in the promiscuity of CPKIs compared to non-covalent PKIs. In addition, we have identified 29 new APKIs in X-ray structures of PK-PKI complexes. Among structurally characterized APKIs, 13 covalent APKIs in complexes with five PKs are currently available, enabling structure-based investigation of PK inhibition by covalent-allosteric mechanisms.


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