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A Pipeline To Enhance Ligand Virtual Screening: Integrating Molecular Dynamics and Fingerprints for Ligand and Proteins

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journal contribution
posted on 26.10.2015, 00:00 by Francesca Spyrakis, Paolo Benedetti, Sergio Decherchi, Walter Rocchia, Andrea Cavalli, Stefano Alcaro, Francesco Ortuso, Massimo Baroni, Gabriele Cruciani
The importance of taking into account protein flexibility in drug design and virtual ligand screening (VS) has been widely debated in the literature, and molecular dynamics (MD) has been recognized as one of the most powerful tools for investigating intrinsic protein dynamics. Nevertheless, deciphering the amount of information hidden in MD simulations and recognizing a significant minimal set of states to be used in virtual screening experiments can be quite complicated. Here we present an integrated MD–FLAP (molecular dynamics–fingerprints for ligand and proteins) approach, comprising a pipeline of molecular dynamics, clustering and linear discriminant analysis, for enhancing accuracy and efficacy in VS campaigns. We first extracted a limited number of representative structures from tens of nanoseconds of MD trajectories by means of the k-medoids clustering algorithm as implemented in the BiKi Life Science Suite (http://www.bikitech.com [accessed July 21, 2015]). Then, instead of applying arbitrary selection criteria, that is, RMSD, pharmacophore properties, or enrichment performances, we allowed the linear discriminant analysis algorithm implemented in FLAP (http://www.moldiscovery.com [accessed July 21, 2015]) to automatically choose the best performing conformational states among medoids and X-ray structures. Retrospective virtual screenings confirmed that ensemble receptor protocols outperform single rigid receptor approaches, proved that computationally generated conformations comprise the same quantity/quality of information included in X-ray structures, and pointed to the MD–FLAP approach as a valuable tool for improving VS performances.

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