Computational Fluorine Scanning Using Free-Energy Perturbation
We present perturbative fluorine scanning, a computational fluorine scanning approach using free-energy perturbation. This method can be applied to molecular dynamics simulations of a single compound and make predictions for the best binders out of numerous fluorinated analogues. We tested the method on nine test systems: Renin, DPP4, Menin, P38, Factor Xa, CDK2, AKT, JAK2, and Androgen Receptor. The predictions were in excellent agreement with more rigorous alchemical free-energy calculations and in good agreement with experimental data for most of the test systems. However, the agreement with experiment was very poor in some of the test systems and this highlights the need for improved force fields in addition to accurate treatment of tautomeric and protonation states. The method is of particular interest due to the wide use of fluorine in medicinal chemistry to improve binding affinity and ADME properties. The promising results on this test case suggest that perturbative fluorine scanning will be a useful addition to the available arsenal of free-energy methods.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/P020259/1)
Medical Research Council (MR/L007266/1)