Rapid Elaboration of Fragments into Leads Applied to Bromodomain-3 Extra Terminal Domain

The development of low-affinity fragment hits into higher affinity leads is a major hurdle in fragment-based drug design. Here we demonstrate an approach for the Rapid Elaboration of Fragments into Leads (REFiL) applying an integrated workflow that provides a systematic approach to generate higher-affinity binders without the need for structural information. The workflow involves the selection of commercial analogues of fragment hits to generate preliminary structure-activity relationships. This is followed by parallel microscale chemistry using chemoinformatically designed reagent libraries to rapidly explore chemical diversity. Upon completion of a fragment screen against Bromodomain-3 extra terminal (BRD3-ET) domain we applied the REFiL workflow, which allowed us to develop a series of tetrahydrocarbazole ligands that bind to the peptide binding site of BRD3-ET. With REFiL we were able to rapidly improve binding affinity >30-fold. The REFiL workflow can be applied readily to a broad range of protein targets without the need of a structure, allowing the efficient evolution of low-affinity fragments into higher affinity leads and chemical probes.