Comparative Structure Based Virtual Screening Utilizing Optimized AlphaFold Model Identifies Selective HDAC11 Inhibitor

18 January 2024, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


HDAC11 is a class IV histone deacylase with no crystal structure reported so far. The catalytic domain of HDAC11 shares low sequence identity with other HDAC isoforms which makes the conventional homology modeling less reliable. AlphaFold is a neural network machine learning approach that can predict the 3D structure of proteins with high accuracy even in absence of similar structures. However the fact that AlphaFold models are predicted in absence of small molecules and ions/cofactors complicate their utilization for drug design. Previously we optimized an HDAC11 AlphaFold model by adding the catalytic zinc ion and minimization in the presence of reported HDAC11 inhibitors. In the current study we implement a comparative structure-based virtual screening approach utilizing the previously optimized HDAC11 AlphaFold model to identify novel and selective HDAC11 inhibitors. The stepwise virtual screening approach was successful in identifying a hit that was subsequently tested using an in vitro enzymatic assay. The hit compound showed an IC50 value of 3.5 µM for HDAC11 and could selectively inhibit HDAC11 over other HDAC subtypes at 10 µM concentration. In addition we carried out molecular dynamics simulations to further confirm the binding hypothesis obtained by the docking study. These results reinforce the previously presented AlphaFold optimization approach and confirm the applicability of AlphaFold models in the search for novel inhibitors for drug discovery.


virtual screening
in vitro assay
molecular dynamics simulation

Supplementary materials

Chemical and analytical data.
Characterization of developed compound. Details on molecular dynamics simulations


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