Informatics and computational design methods were used to create new molecules that could potentially bind antiapoptotic proteins, thus promoting death of cancer cells. Apoptosis is a cellular process that leads to the death of damaged cells. Its malfunction can cause cancer and poor response to conventional chemotherapy. After being activated by cellular stress signals, proapoptotic proteins bind antiapoptotic proteins, thus allowing apoptosis to go forward. An excess of antiapoptotic proteins can prevent apoptosis. Designed molecules that mimic the roles of proapoptotic proteins can promote the death of cancer cells. The goal of our study was to create new putative mimetics that could simultaneously bind several antiapoptotic proteins. Five new small molecules were designed that formed stable complexes with BCL-2, BCL-XL, and MCL-1 antiapoptotic proteins. These results are novel because, to our knowledge, there are not many, if any, small molecules known to bind all three proteins. Drug-likeness studies performed on the designed molecules, as well as previous experimental and preclinical studies on similar agents, strongly suggest that the designed molecules may indeed be promising drug candidates. All five molecules showed “drug-like” properties and had overall drug-likeness scores between 81% and 96%. A single drug based on these mimetics should cost less and cause fewer side effects than a combination of drugs each aimed at a single protein. Computer-based molecular design promises to accelerate drug research by predicting potential effectiveness of designed molecules prior to laborious experiments and costly preclinical trials.
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