A rational approach to elucidate human monoamine oxidase molecular selectivity

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Designing highly selective human monoamine oxidase (hMAO) inhibitors is a challenging goal on the road to a more effective treatment of depression and anxiety (inhibition of hMAO-A isoform) as well as neurodegenerative diseases (inhibition of hMAO-B isoform). To uncover the molecular rationale of hMAOs selectivity, two recently prepared 2H-chromene-2-ones, namely compounds 1 and 2, were herein chosen as molecular probes being highly selective toward hMAO-A and hMAO-B, respectively. We performed molecular dynamics (MD) studies on four different complexes, cross-simulating one at a time the two hMAO-isoforms (dimer embedded in a lipid bilayer) with the two considered probes. Our comparative analysis on the obtained 100 ns trajectories discloses a stable H-bond interaction between 1 and Gln215 as crucial for ligand selectivity toward hMAO-A whereas a water-mediated interaction might explain the observed hMAO-B selectivity of compound 2. Such hypotheses are further supported by binding free energy calculations carried out applying the molecular mechanics generalized Born surface area (MM-GBSA) method and allowing us to evaluate the contribution of each residue to the observed isoform selectivity. Taken as whole, this study represents the first attempt to explain at molecular level hMAO isoform selectivity and a valuable yardstick for better addressing the design of new and highly selective MAO inhibitors.

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