Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

April 2011


Nelfinavir is a potent HIV-protease inhibitor with pleiotropic effects in cancer cells. Experimental studies connect its anti-cancer effects to the suppression of the Akt signaling pathway, but the actual molecular targets remain unknown. Using a structural proteome-wide off-target pipeline, which integrates molecular dynamics simulation and MM/GBSA free energy calculations with ligand binding site comparison and biological network analysis, we identified putative human off-targets of Nelfinavir and analyzed the impact on the associated biological processes. Our results suggest that Nelfinavir is able to inhibit multiple members of the protein kinase-like superfamily, which are involved in the regulation of cellular processes vital for carcinogenesis and metastasis. The computational predictions are supported by kinase activity assays and are consistent with existing experimental and clinical evidence. This finding provides a molecular basis to explain the broad-spectrum anti-cancer effect of Nelfinavir and presents opportunities to optimize the drug as a targeted polypharmacology agent.


This work was originally published in PLoS Computational Biology, available at doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002037.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.