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Do Fragments and Crystallization Additives Bind Similarly to Drug-like Ligands?

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journal contribution
posted on 17.04.2017, 00:00 by Malgorzata N. Drwal, Célien Jacquemard, Carlos Perez, Jérémy Desaphy, Esther Kellenberger
The success of fragment-based drug design (FBDD) hinges upon the optimization of low-molecular-weight compounds (MW < 300 Da) with weak binding affinities to lead compounds with high affinity and selectivity. Usually, structural information from fragment–protein complexes is used to develop ideas about the binding mode of similar but drug-like molecules. In this regard, crystallization additives such as cryoprotectants or buffer components, which are highly abundant in crystal structures, are frequently ignored. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the information present in protein complexes with fragments as well as those with additives and how they relate to the binding modes of their drug-like counterparts. We present a thorough analysis of the binding modes of crystallographic additives, fragments, and drug-like ligands bound to four diverse targets of wide interest in drug discovery and highly represented in the Protein Data Bank: cyclin-dependent kinase 2, β-secretase 1, carbonic anhydrase 2, and trypsin. We identified a total of 630 unique molecules bound to the catalytic binding sites, among them 31 additives, 222 fragments, and 377 drug-like ligands. In general, we observed that, independent of the target, protein–fragment interaction patterns are highly similar to those of drug-like ligands and mostly cover the residues crucial for binding. Crystallographic additives are also able to show conserved binding modes and recover the residues important for binding in some of the cases. Moreover, we show evidence that the information from fragments and drug-like ligands can be applied to rescore docking poses in order to improve the prediction of binding modes.