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J Bioinform Comput Biol. 2015 Jun;13(3):1541007. doi: 10.1142/S0219720015410073. Epub 2015 Feb 10.

PSOVina: The hybrid particle swarm optimization algorithm for protein-ligand docking.

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Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Macau, Avenida da Universidade, Taipa Macau S.A.R, P. R. China.


Protein-ligand docking is an essential step in modern drug discovery process. The challenge here is to accurately predict and efficiently optimize the position and orientation of ligands in the binding pocket of a target protein. In this paper, we present a new method called PSOVina which combined the particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithm with the efficient Broyden-Fletcher-Goldfarb-Shannon (BFGS) local search method adopted in AutoDock Vina to tackle the conformational search problem in docking. Using a diverse data set of 201 protein-ligand complexes from the PDBbind database and a full set of ligands and decoys for four representative targets from the directory of useful decoys (DUD) virtual screening data set, we assessed the docking performance of PSOVina in comparison to the original Vina program. Our results showed that PSOVina achieves a remarkable execution time reduction of 51-60% without compromising the prediction accuracies in the docking and virtual screening experiments. This improvement in time efficiency makes PSOVina a better choice of a docking tool in large-scale protein-ligand docking applications. Our work lays the foundation for the future development of swarm-based algorithms in molecular docking programs. PSOVina is freely available to non-commercial users at .


AutoDock; Particle swarm optimization; conformational search; drug design; flexible docking; protein–ligand docking

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