Benchmarking Refined and Unrefined AlphaFold2 Structures for Hit Discovery

27 June 2022, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The recently developed AlphaFold2 (AF2) algorithm predicts proteins’ 3D structures from amino acid sequences. The open AlphaFold Protein Structure Database covers the complete human proteome. It shows great potential to provide structural information to enable and enhance existing and new drug discovery projects. Using an industry-leading molecular docking method (Glide), we benchmarked the virtual screening performance of 28 common drug targets each with an AF2 structure and known holo and apo structures from the DUD-E dataset. The AF2 structures show comparable early enrichment of known active compounds (avg. EF 1%: 13.16) to apo structures (avg. EF 1%: 11.56), while falling behind early enrichment of the holo structures (avg. EF 1%: 24.81). We also demonstrated that with the IFD-MD induced-fit docking approach, we can refine the AF2 structures using a known binding ligand to improve the performance in structure-based virtual screening (avg. EF 1%: 19.25). Thus, with proper preparation and refinement, AF2 structures show considerable promise for in silico hit identification.


Protein Structure Prediction
Machine Learning
Hit Discovery
Virtual Screening
Induced-fit docking

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Target overview and additional analysis of enrichment results and binding sites


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.