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J Chem Inf Model. 2008 Feb;48(2):397-408. doi: 10.1021/ci700285e. Epub 2008 Jan 23.

Ligand-protein docking with water molecules.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, Perth WA 6845, Australia.


The presence of water molecules plays an important role in the accuracy of ligand-protein docking predictions. Comprehensive docking simulations have been performed on a large set of ligand-protein complexes whose crystal structures contain water molecules in their binding sites. Only those water molecules found in the immediate vicinity of both the ligand and the protein were considered. We have investigated whether prior optimization of the orientation of water molecules in either the presence or absence of the bound ligand has any effect on the accuracy of docking predictions. We have observed a statistically significant overall increase in accuracy when water molecules are included during docking simulations and have found this to be independent of the method of optimization of the orientation of water molecules. These results confirm the importance of including water molecules whenever possible in a ligand-protein docking simulation. Our findings also reveal that prior optimization of the orientation of water molecules, in the absence of any bound ligand, does not have a detrimental effect on the improved accuracy of ligand-protein docking. This is important, given the use of docking simulations to predict the binding modes of new ligands or drug molecules.

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