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J Chem Inf Model. 2009 Jun;49(6):1568-80. doi: 10.1021/ci8004308.

Docking ligands into flexible and solvated macromolecules. 4. Are popular scoring functions accurate for this class of proteins?

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Department of Chemistry, McGill University, 801 Sherbrooke St. W, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2K6.


In our previous report, we investigated the impact of protein flexibility and the presence of water molecules on the pose-prediction accuracy of major docking programs. To complete these investigations, we report herein a study of the impact of these two aspects on the accuracy of scoring functions. To this effect, we developed two sets of protein/ligand complexes made up of ligands cross-docked or cocrystallized with a large variety of proteins, featuring bridging water molecules and demonstrating protein flexibility. Efforts were made to reduce the correlation between the molecular weights of the selected ligands and their binding affinities, a major bias in some previously reported benchmark sets. Using these sets, 18 available scoring functions have been assessed for their accuracy to predict binding affinities and to rank-order compounds by their affinity to cocrystallized proteins. This study confirmed the good and similar accuracy of Xscore, GlideScore, DrugScore(CSD), GoldScore, PLP1, ChemScore, RankScore, and the eHiTS scoring function. Our next investigations demonstrated that most of the assessed scoring functions were much less accurate when the correct protein conformation was not provided. This study also revealed that considering the water molecules for scoring does not greatly affect the accuracy. Finally, this work sheds light on the high correlation between scoring functions and the poor increase in accuracy one can expect from consensus scoring.

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