Cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) is a potential target for treating cancer. Purine heterocycles have attracted particular attention as the scaffolds for the development of CDK2 inhibitors. To explore the interaction mechanism and the structure–activity relationship (SAR) and to design novel candidate compounds as potential CDK2 inhibitors, a systematic molecular modeling study was conducted on 35 purine derivatives as CDK2 inhibitors by combining three-dimensional quantitative SAR (3D-QSAR), virtual screening, molecular docking, and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The predictive CoMFA model (q2
= 0.991), the CoMSIA model (q2
= 0.990), and the Topomer CoMFA model (q2
= 0.962) were obtained. Contour maps revealed that the electrostatic, hydrophobic, hydrogen bond donor and steric fields played key roles in the QSAR models. Thirty-one novel candidate compounds with suitable predicted activity (predicted pIC50
> 8) were designed by using the results of virtual screening. Molecular docking indicated that residues Asp86, Glu81, Leu83, Lys89, Lys33, and Gln131 formed hydrogen bonds with the ligand, which affected activity of the ligand. Based on the QSAR model prediction and molecular docking, two candidate compounds, I13
> 8, docking score > 10), with the most potential research value were further screened out. MD simulations of the corresponding complexes of these two candidate compounds further verified their stability. This study provided valuable information for the development of new potential CDK2 inhibitors.
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