Deciphering Cryptic Binding Sites on Proteins by Mixed-Solvent Molecular Dynamics

J. Chem. Inf. Model. 2017, 57, 6, 1388–1401

Authors: S. R. Kimura, H. P. Hu, A. M. Ruvinsky, W. Sherman and A. D. Favia

In recent years, molecular dynamics simulations of proteins in explicit mixed solvents have been applied to various problems in protein biophysics and drug discovery, including protein folding, protein surface characterization, fragment screening, allostery, and druggability assessment. In this study, we perform a systematic study on how mixtures of organic solvent probes in water can reveal cryptic ligand binding pockets that are not evident in crystal structures of apo proteins. We examine a diverse set of eight PDB proteins that show pocket opening induced by ligand binding and investigate whether solvent MD simulations on the apo structures can induce the binding site observed in the holo structures. The cosolvent simulations were found to induce conformational changes on the protein surface, which were characterized and compared with the holo structures. Analyses of the biological systems, choice of probes and concentrations, druggability of the resulting induced pockets, and application to drug discovery are discussed here.

Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling