Improved Ligand-Protein binding affinity predictions using multiple binding modes.

E.M. Stjernschantz, B.C. Oostenbrink

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Accurate ligand-protein binding affinity prediction, for a set of similar binders, is a major challenge in the lead optimization stage in drug development. In general, docking and scoring functions perform unsatisfactorily in this application. Docking calculations, followed by molecular dynamics simulations and free energy calculations can be applied to improve the predictions. However, for targets with large, flexible binding sites, with no experimentally determined binding modes for a set of ligands, insufficient sampling can decrease the accuracy of the free energy calculations. Cytochrome P450s, a protein family of major importance for drug metabolism, is an example of a challenging target for binding affinity predictions. As a result, the choice of starting structure from the docking solutions becomes crucial. In this study, an iterative scheme is introduced that includes multiple independent molecular dynamics simulations to obtain weighted ensemble averages to be used in the linear interaction energy method. The proposed scheme makes the initial pose selection less crucial for further simulation, as it automatically calculates the relative weights of the various poses. It also properly takes into account the possibility that multiple binding modes contribute similarly to the overall affinity, or of similar compounds occupying very different poses. The method was applied to a set of 12 compounds binding to cytochrome P450 2C9 and it displayed a root mean-square error of 2.9 kJ/mol. © 2010 by the Biophysical Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2682-2691
JournalBiophysical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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