U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 310 (2003) 84–93.


Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are among the most lethal biological substances to have been weaponized and are listed as biodefense category A agents. Currently, no small molecule (non-peptidic) therapeutics exist to counter this threat; hence, identifying and developing compounds that inhibit BoNTs is a high priority. In the present study, a high-throughput assay was used to identify small molecules that inhibit the metalloprotease activity of BoNT serotype A light chain (BoNT/A LC). All inhibitors were further verified using a HPLC-based assay. Conformational analyses of these compounds, in conjunction with molecular docking studies, were used to predict structural features that contribute to inhibitor binding and potency. Based on these results, a common pharmacophore for BoNT/A LC inhibitors is proposed. This is the first study to report small molecules (non-peptidics) that inhibit BoNT/A LC metalloprotease activity in the low lM range.