Vascular endothselial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptor tyrosine kinase VEGFR-2 or kinase insert domain receptor (KDR) have been identified as new promising targets for the design of novel anticancer agents. It is reported that 4-(1H-indazol-4-yl)phenylamino and aminopyrazolopyridine urea derivatives exhibit potent inhibitory activities toward KDR. To investigate how their chemical structures relate to the inhibitory activities and to identify the key structural elements that are required in the rational design of potential drug candidates of this class, molecular docking simulations and three-dimensional quantitative structure-activity relationship (3D-QSAR) methods were performed on 78 4-(1H-indazol-4-yl)phenylamino and aminopyrazolopyridine urea derivatives as KDR inhibitors. Surflex-dock was used to determine the probable binding conformations of all the compounds at the active site of KDR. As a result, multiple hydrophobic and hydrogen-bonding interactions were found to be two predominant factors that may be used to modulate the inhibitory activities. Comparative molecular field analysis (CoMFA) and comparative molecular similarity indices analysis (CoMSIA) 3D-QSAR models were developed based on the docking conformations. The CoMFA model produced statistically significant results with the cross-validated correlation coefficient q2 of 0.504 and the non-cross-validated correlation coefficient r2 of 0.913. The best CoMSIA model was obtained from the combination of steric, electrostatic and hydrophobic fields. Its q2 and r2 being 0.595 and 0.947, respectively, indicated that it had higher predictive ability than the CoMFA model. The predictive abilities of the two models were further validated by 14 test compounds, giving the predicted correction coefficients rpred2 of 0.727 for CoMFA and 0.624 for CoMSIA, respectively. In addition, the CoMFA and CoMSIA models were used to guide the design of a series of new inhibitors of this class with predicted excellent activities. Thus, these models may be used as an efficient tool to predict the inhibitory activities and to guide the future rational design of 4-(1H-indazol-4-yl)phenylamino and aminopyrazolopyridine urea derivatives-based novel KDR inhibitors with potent activities.
March 1, 2012