SuFEx-Enabled High-Throughput Medicinal Chemistry

20 December 2019, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Optimization of small-molecule probes or drugs is a lengthy, challenging and resource-intensive process. Lack of automation and reliance on skilled medicinal chemists is cumbersome in both academic and industrial settings. Here, we demonstrate a high-throughput hit-to-lead process based on the biocompatible SuFEx click chemistry. A modest high-throughput screening hit against a bacterial cysteine protease SpeB was modified with a SuFExable iminosulfur oxydifluoride [RN=S(O)F2] motif, rapidly diversified into 460 analogs in overnight reactions, and the products directly screened to yield drug-like inhibitors with 300-fold higher potency. We showed that the improved molecule is drug-like and biologically active in a bacteria-host coculture. Since these reactions can be performed on a picomole scale to conserve reagents, we anticipate our methodology can accelerate the development of robust biological probes and drug candidates.


SuFEx chemistry
Medicinal Chemistry
Streptococcal infections
protease inhibitor

Supplementary materials

2019 Kitamura et al. SI


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