Screening of medicinal plant phytochemicals as natural antagonists of p53–MDM2 interaction to reactivate p53 functioning

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In most types of cancer, overexpression of murine double minute 2 (MDM2) often leads to inactivation of p53. The crystal structure of MDM2, with a 109-residue amino-terminal domain, reveals that MDM2 has a core hydrophobic region to which p53 binds as an amphipathic α helix. The interface depends on the steric complementarity between MDM2 and the hydrophobic region of p53. Especially, on p53’s triad, amino acids Phe19, Trp23 and Leu26 bind to the MDM2 core. Results from studies suggest that the structural motif of both p53 and MDM2 can be attributed to similarities in the amphipathic α helix. Thus, in the current investigation it is hypothesized that the similarity in the structural motif might be the cause of p53 inactivation by MDM2. Hence, molecular docking and phytochemical screening approaches are appraised to inhibit the hydrophobic cleft of MDM2 and to stop p53–MDM2 interaction, resulting in reactivation of p53 activity. For this purpose, a library of 2295 phytochemicals were screened against p53–MDM2 to find potential candidates. Of these, four phytochemicals including epigallocatechin gallate, alvaradoin M, alvaradoin E and nordihydroguaiaretic acid were found to be potential inhibitors of p53–MDM2 interaction. The screened phytochemicals, derived from natural extracts, may have negligible side effects and can be explored as potent antagonists of p53–MDM2 interactions, resulting in reactivation of the normal transcription of p53.

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