Free energy force field (FEFF) 3D-QSAR analysis of a set of Plasmodium falciparum dihydrofolate reductase inhibitors

O. A. Santos-Filho, R. K. Mishra, A. J. Hopfinger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Free energy force field (FEFF) 3D-QSAR analysis was used to construct ligand-receptor binding models for a set of 18 structurally diverse antifolates including pyrimethamine, cycloguanil, methotrexate, aminopterin and trimethoprim, and 13 pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidines. The molecular target ('receptor') used was a 3D-homology model of a specific mutant type of Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). The dependent variable of the 3D-QSAR models is the IC50 inhibition constant for the specific mutant type of PfDHFR. The independent variables of the 3D-QSAR models (the descriptors) are scaled energy terms of a modified first-generation AMBER force field combined with a hydration shell aqueous solvation model and a collection of 2D-QSAR descriptors often used in QSAR studies. Multiple temperature molecular dynamics simulation (MDS) and the genetic function approximation (GFA) were employed using partial least square (PLS) and multidimensional linear regressions as the fitting functions to develop FEFF 3D-QSAR models for the binding process. The significant FEFF energy terms in the best 3D-QSAR models include energy contributions of the direct ligand-receptor interaction. Some changes in conformational energy terms of the ligand due to binding to the enzyme are also found to be important descriptors. The FEFF 3D-QSAR models indicate some structural features perhaps relevant to the mechanism of resistance of the PfDHFR to current antimalarials. The FEFF 3D-QSAR models are also compared to receptor-independent (RI) 4D-QSAR models developed in an earlier study and subsequently refined using recently developed generalized alignment rules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-810
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2001


  • 3D-SQAR
  • Malaria
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Plasmodium falciparum DHFR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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