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An Improved Free Energy Perturbation FEP+ Sampling Protocol for Flexible Ligand-Binding Domains

revised on 26.02.2019 and posted on 27.02.2019 by Filip Fratev, suman sirimulla
Recent improvements to free energy perturbation (FEP) calculations, especiallyFEP+, established their utility for pharmaceutical lead optimization. However, to dateFEP has typically been helpful only when (1) high-quality X-ray data is available and(2) the target protein does not undergo significant conformational changes. Also, alack of systematic studies on determining an adequate sampling time is often one ofthe primary limitations of FEP calculations. Herein, we propose a modified versionof the FEP/REST (i.e., replica exchange with solute tempering) sampling protocol,based on systematic studies on several targets by probing a large number of permutations with different sampling schemes. Improved FEP+ binding affinity predictions for regular flexible-loop (F-loop) motions and considerable structural changes can be obtained by extending the pre-REST sampling time from 0.24 ns to 5 ns/λand 2×10 ns/λ, respectively. We obtained much more precise ∆∆G calculations of the individual perturbations, including the sign of the transformations and less error. We extended the REST simulations from 5 ns to 8 ns to achieve reasonable free energy convergence.Implementing REST to the entire ligand as opposed to solely the perturbed region, and also some important flexible protein residues (pREST region) in ligand binding domain (LBD) , also considerably improved the FEP+ results in most of the studied cases. Preliminary molecular dynamics (MD) runs were useful for establishing the correct binding mode of the compounds and thus precise alignment for FEP+.


UTEP School of Pharmacy


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The University of Texas at El Paso



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Declaration of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.