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J Chem Inf Model. 2009 Mar;49(3):716-25. doi: 10.1021/ci8003732.

Consistent improvement of cross-docking results using binding site ensembles generated with elastic network normal modes.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, Mail TPC-28, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The representation of protein flexibility is still a challenge for the state-of-the-art flexible ligand docking protocols. In this article, we use a large and diverse benchmark to prove that is possible to improve consistently the cross-docking performance against a single receptor conformation, using an equilibrium ensemble of binding site conformers. The benchmark contained 28 proteins, and our method predicted the top-ranked near native ligand poses 20% more efficiently than using a single receptor. The multiple conformations were derived from the collective variable space defined by all heavy-atom elastic network normal modes, including backbone and side chains. We have found that the binding site displacements for best positioning of the ligand seem rather independent from the global collective motions of the protein. We also found that the number of binding site conformations needed to represent nonredundant flexibility was < 100. The ensemble of receptor conformations can be generated at our Web site at

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