Virtual Screening of Chemical Compounds for Discovery of Complement C3 Ligands. Academic Article uri icon


  • The complement system is our first line of defense against foreign pathogens, but when it is not properly regulated, complement is implicated in the pathology of several autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. Compstatin is a peptidic complement inhibitor that acts by blocking the cleavage of complement protein C3 to the proinflammatory fragment C3a and opsonin fragment C3b. In this study, we aim to identify druglike small-molecule complement inhibitors with physicochemical, geometric, and binding properties similar to those of compstatin. We employed two approaches using various high-throughput virtual screening methods, which incorporate molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, pharmacophore model design, energy calculations, and molecular docking and scoring. We have generated a library of 274 chemical compounds with computationally predicted binding affinities for the compstatin binding site of C3. We have tested subsets of these chemical compounds experimentally for complement inhibitory activity, using hemolytic assays, and for binding affinity, using microscale thermophoresis. As a result, although none of the compounds showed inhibitory activity, compound 29 was identified to exhibit weak competitive binding against a potent compstatin analogue, therefore validating our computational approaches. Additional docking and MD simulation studies suggest that compound 29 interacts with C3 residues, which have been shown to be important in binding of compstatin to the C3c fragment of C3. Compound 29 is amenable to physicochemical optimization to acquire inhibitory properties. Additionally, it is possible that some of the untested compounds will demonstrate binding and inhibition in future experimental studies.

published proceedings

  • ACS Omega

altmetric score

  • 1.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Mohan, R. R., Wilson, M., Gorham, R. D., Harrison, R., Morikis, V. A., Kieslich, C. A., ... Morikis, D.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Mohan, Rohith R||Wilson, Mark||Gorham, Ronald D||Harrison, Reed ES||Morikis, Vasilios A||Kieslich, Chris A||Orr, Asuka A||Coley, Alexis V||Tamamis, Phanourios||Morikis, Dimitrios

publication date

  • June 2018