Atomic-level understanding of the dynamical feature of host-guest interactions remains a central challenge in supramolecular chemistry. The remarkable guest binding behavior of the Cucurbiturils family of supramolecular containers makes them promising drug carriers. Among Cucurbit[n]urils, Cucurbituril (CB8) has intermediate portal size and cavity volume. It can exploit almost all host-guest recognition motifs formed by this host family. In our previous work, an extensive computational investigation of the binding of 7 commonly abused and structurally diverse drugs to the CB8 host was performed and a general dynamical binding picture of CB8-guest interactions was obtained. Further, two widely used fixed-charge models for drug-like molecules were investigated and compared in great detail, aiming at providing guidelines in choosing an appropriate charge scheme in host-guest modelling. Iterative refitting of atomic charges leads to improved binding thermodynamics and the best root-mean-squared deviation from the experimental reference is 2.6 kcal/mol. In this work, we focus on a thorough evaluation of the remaining parts of classical force fields, i.e., the bonded interactions. The widely used general Amber force fields are assessed and refitted to improve the intra-molecular conformational preference and thus the description of inter-molecular host-guest interactions. The interaction pattern and binding thermodynamics show significant dependence on the modelling parameters. The refitted system-specific parameter set improves the consistency of the modelling results and the experimental reference significantly. Finally, combining the previous charge-scheme comparison and the current force-field refitting, we provide general guidelines for the theoretical modelling of host-guest binding.
A General Picture of Cucurbituril Host-Guest Binding: Recalibrating Bonded Interactions
07 October 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.