Novel virtual lead identification in the discovery of hematopoietic cell kinase (HCK) inhibitors: application of 3D QSAR and molecular dynamics simulation

High level of hematopoietic cell kinase (Hck) is associated with drug resistance in chronic myeloid leukemia. Additionally, Hck activity has also been connected with the pathogenesis of HIV-1 and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In this study, three-dimensional (3D) QSAR pharmacophore models were generated for Hck based on experimentally known inhibitors. A best pharmacophore model, Hypo1, was developed with high correlation coefficient (0.975), Low RMS deviation (0.60) and large cost difference (49.31), containing three ring aromatic and one hydrophobic aliphatic feature. It was further validated by the test set (r = 0.96) and Fisher’s randomization method (95%). Hypo 1 was used as a 3D query for screening the chemical databases, and the hits were further screened by applying Lipinski’s rule of five and ADMET properties. Selected hit compounds were subjected to molecular docking to identify binding conformations in the active site. Finally, the appropriate binding modes of final hit compounds were revealed by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and free energy calculation studies. Hence, we propose the final three hit compounds as virtual candidates for Hck inhibitors.