Exploring the binding pathway of novel non-peptidomimetic plasmepsin V inhibitors


Predicting the interaction modes and binding affinities of virtual compound libraries is of great interest in drug development. It reduces the cost and time of lead compound identification and selection. Here we apply path-based metadynamics simulations to characterise the binding of potential inhibitors to the Plasmodium falciparum aspartic protease plasmepsin V (plm V), a validated antimalarial drug target that has a highly mobile binding site. The potential plm V binders were identified in a high throughput virtual screening (HTVS) campaign and were experimentally verified in a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) assay. Our simulations allowed us to estimate compound binding energies and revealed putative transition states along binding/unbinding pathways in atomistic resolution. We believe that the method described allows the prioritisation of compounds for synthesis and enables rational structure-based drug design for targets that undergo considerable conformational changes upon inhibitor binding.


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