Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Wayne Guida

Co-Major Professor

Henry L. Woodcock


Biophysics, Cancer, Computational Chemistry, Hydroxyurea, Medicinal Chemistry, Sickle cell disease


This dissertation thesis consists of a series of chapters that are interwoven by solving interesting biological problems, employing various computational methodologies. These techniques provide meaningful physical insights to promote the scientific fields of interest. Focus of chapter 1 concerns, the importance of computational tools like docking studies in advancing structure based drug design processes. This chapter also addresses the prime concerns like scoring functions, sampling algorithms and flexible docking studies that hamper the docking successes. Information about the different kinds of flexible dockings in terms of accuracy, time limitations and success studies are presented. Later the importance of Induced fit docking studies was explained in comparison to traditional MD simulations to predict the absolute binding modes.

Chapter 2 and 3 focuses on understanding, how sickle cell disease progresses through the production of sickled hemoglobin and its effects on sickle cell patients. And how, hydroxyurea, the only FDA approved treatment of sickle cell disease acts to subside sickle cell effects. It is believed the primary mechanism of action is associated with the pharmacological elevation of nitric oxide in the blood, however, the exact details of this mechanism is still unclear. HU interacts with oxy and deoxyHb resulting in slow NO production rates. However, this did not correlate with the observed increase of NO concentrations in patients undergoing HU therapy. The discrepancy can be attributed to the interaction of HU competing with other heme based enzymes such as catalase and peroxidases. In these two chapters, we investigate the atomic level details of this process using a combination of flexible-ligand / flexible-receptor virtual screening (i.e. induced fit docking, IFD) coupled with energetic analysis that decomposes interaction energies at the atomic level. Using these tools we were able to elucidate the previously unknown substrate binding modes of a series of hydroxyurea analogs to human hemoglobin, catalase and the concomitant structural changes of the enzymes. Our results are consistent with kinetic and EPR measurements of hydroxyurea-hemoglobin reactions and a full mechanism is proposed that offers new insights into possibly improving substrate binding and/or reactivity.

Finally in chapter 4, we have developed a 3D bioactive structure of O6-alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase (AGT), a DNA repair protein using Monte Carlo conformational search process. It is known that AGT prevents DNA damage, mutations and apoptosis arising from alkylated guanines. Various Benzyl guanine analouges of O6- methylguanine were tested for activity as potential inhibitors. The nature and position of the substitutions methyl and aminomethyl profoundly affected their activity. Molecular modeling of their interactions with alkyltransferase provided a molecular explanation for these results. The square of the correlation coefficient (R2 ) obtained between E-model scores (obtained from GLIDE XP/QPLD docking calculations) vs log(ED)values via a linear regression analysis was 0.96. The models indicate that the ortho-substitution causes a steric clash interfering with binding, whereas the meta-aminomethyl substitution allows an interaction of the amino group to generate an additional hydrogen bond with the protein. Using this model for virtually screening studies resulted in identification of seven lead compounds with novel scaffolds from National Cancer Institute Diversity Set2.