Ab Initio Molecular Modeling in the Study of Drug Metabolism


We discuss the use of ab initio quantum mechanical methods in drug metabolism studies. These methods require only the positions and atomic numbers of the atoms to be specified and offer greater transferability than conventional molecular modeling techniques. This fact, coupled with the accuracy of our approach, permits `computational experiments' to be performed, allowing details of reaction mechanisms to be understood. We review the application of these methods to the cytochrome P450 superfamily of enzymes. There is much interest in understanding the mechanisms of these enzymes due to their participation in a wide range of metabolic processes including drug activation/deactivation. We find that our methods accurately reproduce the low- to high-spin transition of the haem Fe on binding of a substrate. Furthermore, we identify a new mechanism for the suppression of this spin transition, namely the shortening of the bond between the Fe atom and the coordinated S atom of the cysteine axial ligand. These results indicate that ab initio molecular modeling may be usefully applied in the study of drug metabolism and that further study of intermediate states in the P450 reaction cycle would be beneficial, particularly those which are not accessible using conventional experimental approaches.

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Matthew Segall (mds21@phy.cam.ac.uk)
Last modified: Fri Aug 22 16:47:51 1997