Halogen Bonds in Ligand-Protein Systems: Molecular Orbital Theory for Drug Design

Enrico Margiotta, Stephanie C.C. van der Lubbe, Lucas de Azevedo Santos, Gabor Paragi, Stefano Moro, F. Matthias Bickelhaupt, Célia Fonseca Guerra

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Halogen bonds are highly important in medicinal chemistry as halogenation of drugs, generally, improves both selectivity and efficacy toward protein active sites. However, accurate modeling of halogen bond interactions remains a challenge, since a thorough theoretical investigation of the bonding mechanism, focusing on the realistic complexity of drug-receptor systems, is lacking. Our systematic quantum-chemical study on ligand/peptide-like systems reveals that halogen bonding is driven by the same bonding interactions as hydrogen bonding. Besides the electrostatic and the dispersion interactions, our bonding analyses, based on quantitative Kohn-Sham molecular orbital theory together with energy decomposition analysis, reveal that donor-acceptor interactions and steric repulsion between the occupied orbitals of the halogenated ligand and the protein need to be considered more carefully within the drug design process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317-1328
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of chemical information and modeling
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2020


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