Optimization of small-molecule probes or drugs is a synthetically lengthy, challenging, and resource-intensive process. Lack of automation and reliance on skilled medicinal chemists is cumbersome in both academic and industrial settings. Here, we demonstrate a high-throughput hit-to-lead process based on the biocompatible sulfur(VI) fluoride exchange (SuFEx) click chemistry. A high-throughput screening hit benzyl (cyanomethyl)carbamate (Ki = 8 μM) against a bacterial cysteine protease SpeB was modified with a SuFExable iminosulfur oxydifluoride [RN=S(O)F2] motif, rapidly diversified into 460 analogs in overnight reactions, and the products were directly screened to yield drug-like inhibitors with 480-fold higher potency (Ki = 18 nM). We showed that the improved molecule is active in a bacteria-host coculture. Since this SuFEx linkage reaction succeeds on picomole scale for direct screening, we anticipate our methodology can accelerate the development of robust biological probes and drug candidates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry