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Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Nov 9;99(19):198101. Epub 2007 Nov 6.

Quantifying intrinsic specificity: a potential complement to affinity in drug screening.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Electroanalytical Chemistry, Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences Changchun, Jilin, PR China.


We report here the investigation of a novel description of specificity in protein-ligand binding based on energy landscape theory. We define a new term, intrinsic specificity ratio (ISR), which describes the level of discrimination in binding free energies of the native basin for a protein-ligand complex from the weaker binding states of the same ligand. We discuss the relationship between the intrinsic specificity we defined here and the conventional definition of specificity. In a docking study of molecules with the enzyme COX-2, we demonstrate a statistical correspondence between ISR value and geometrical shapes of the small molecules binding to COX-2. We further observe that the known selective (nonselective) inhibitors of COX-2 have higher (lower) ISR values. We suggest that intrinsic specificity ratio may be a useful new criterion and a complement to affinity in drug screening and in searching for potential drug lead compounds.

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