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The nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates (N-BPs) are the main drugs currently used to treat diseases characterized by excessive bone resorption. The major molecular target of N-BPs is farnesylpyrophosphate synthase. N-BPs inhibit the enzyme by a mechanism that involves time dependent isomerization of the enzyme. We investigated features of N-BPs that confer maximal slow and tight-binding by quantifying the initial and final K(i)s and calculating the isomerization constant K(isom) for many N-BPs. Disruption of the phosphonate-carbon-phosphonate backbone resulted in loss of potency and reduced K(isom). The lack of a hydroxyl group on the geminal carbon also reduced K(isom). The position of the nitrogen in the side chain was crucial to both K(i) and K(isom). A correlation of K(isom) and also final K(i) with previously published in vivo potency reveals that the isomerization constant ( R = -0.77, p < 0.0001) and the final inhibition of FPPS by N-BPs ( R = 0.74, p < 0.0001) are closely linked to antiresorptive efficacy.

Original publication




Journal article


J Med Chem

Publication Date





2187 - 2195


Binding Sites, Diphosphonates, Enzyme Inhibitors, Geranyltranstransferase, Humans, Models, Molecular, Molecular Structure, Nitrogen, Stereoisomerism, Structure-Activity Relationship, Time Factors