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Cosolvent-Based Protein Pharmacophore for Ligand Enrichment in Virtual Screening

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-08-15, 19:36 authored by Juan Pablo Arcon, Lucas A. Defelipe, Elias D. Lopez, Osvaldo Burastero, Carlos P. Modenutti, Xavier Barril, Marcelo A. Marti, Adrian G. Turjanski
Virtual screening of large compound databases, looking for potential ligands of a target protein, is a major tool in computer-aided drug discovery. Throughout the years, different techniques such as similarity searching, pharmacophore matching, or molecular docking have been applied with the aim of finding hit compounds showing appreciable affinity. Molecular dynamics simulations in mixed solvents have been shown to identify hot spots relevant for protein–drug interaction, and implementations based on this knowledge were developed to improve pharmacophore matching of small molecules, binding free-energy estimations, and docking performance in terms of pose prediction. Here, we proved in a retrospective manner that cosolvent-derived pharmacophores from molecular dynamics (solvent sites) improve the performance of docking-based virtual screening campaigns. We applied a biased docking scheme based on solvent sites to nine relevant target proteins that have a set of known ligands or actives and compounds that are, presumably, nonbinders (decoys). Our results show improvement in virtual screening performance compared to traditional docking programs both at a global level, with up to 35% increase in areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve, and in early stages, with up to a 7-fold increase in enrichment factors at 1%. However, the improvement in pose prediction of actives was less profound. The presented application makes use of the AutoDock Bias method and is the only cosolvent-derived pharmacophore technique that employs its knowledge both in the ligand conformational search algorithm and the final affinity scoring for virtual screening purposes.

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