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J Phys Chem B. 2012 Jun 14;116(23):6872-9. doi: 10.1021/jp212646s. Epub 2012 Apr 2.

Protein-ligand binding free energies from exhaustive docking.

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Biotechnology Research Institute, National Research Council of Canada, 6100 Royalmount Avenue, Montreal, Quebec H4P 2R2, Canada.


We explore the use of exhaustive docking as an alternative to Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics sampling for the direct integration of the partition function for protein-ligand binding. We enumerate feasible poses for the ligand and calculate the Boltzmann factor contribution of each pose to the partition function. From the partition function, the free energy, enthalpy, and entropy can be derived. All our calculations are done with a continuum solvation model that includes solving the Poisson equation. In contrast to Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics simulations, exhaustive docking avoids (within the limitations of a discrete sampling) the question of "Have we run long enough?" due to its deterministic complete enumeration of states. We tested the method on the T4 lysozyme L99A mutant, which has a nonpolar cavity that can accommodate a number of small molecules. We tested two electrostatic models. Model 1 used a solute dielectric of 2.25 for the complex apoprotein and free ligand and 78.5 for the solvent. Model 2 used a solute dielectric of 2.25 for the complex and apoprotein but 1.0 for the free ligand. For our test set of eight molecules, we obtain a reasonable correlation with a Pearson r(2) = 0.66 using model 1. The trend in binding affinity ranking is generally preserved with a Kendall τ = 0.64 and Spearman ρ = 0.83. With model 2, the correlation is improved with a Pearson r(2) = 0.83, Kendall τ = 0.93, and Spearman ρ = 0.98. This suggests that the energy function and sampling method adequately captured most of the thermodynamics of binding of the nonpolar ligands to T4 lysozyme L99A.

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