skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on June 29, 2023

Title: Essential Dynamics Ensemble Docking for Structure-Based GPCR Drug Discovery
The lack of biologically relevant protein structures can hinder rational design of small molecules to target G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). While ensemble docking using multiple models of the protein target is a promising technique for structure-based drug discovery, model clustering and selection still need further investigations to achieve both high accuracy and efficiency. In this work, we have developed an original ensemble docking approach, which identifies the most relevant conformations based on the essential dynamics of the protein pocket. This approach is applied to the study of small-molecule antagonists for the PAC1 receptor, a class B GPCR and a regulator of stress. As few as four representative PAC1 models are selected from simulations of a homology model and then used to screen three million compounds from the ZINC database and 23 experimentally validated compounds for PAC1 targeting. Our essential dynamics ensemble docking (EDED) approach can effectively reduce the number of false negatives in virtual screening and improve the accuracy to seek potent compounds. Given the cost and difficulties to determine membrane protein structures for all the relevant states, our methodology can be useful for future discovery of small molecules to target more other GPCRs, either with or without experimental structures.
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1848444
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10336920
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences
Volume:
9
ISSN:
2296-889X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Structure-based drug design targeting the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been greatly facilitated by available virus-related protein structures. However, there is an urgent need for effective, safe small-molecule drugs to control the spread of the virus and variants. While many efforts are devoted to searching for compounds that selectively target individual proteins, we investigated the potential interactions between eight proteins related to SARS-CoV-2 and more than 600 compounds from a traditional Chinese medicine which has proven effective at treating the viral infection. Our original ensemble docking and cooperative docking approaches, followed by a total of over 16-micorsecond molecular simulations, have identified at least 9 compounds that may generally bind to key SARS-CoV-2 proteins. Further, we found evidence that some of these compounds can simultaneously bind to the same target, potentially leading to cooperative inhibition to SARS-CoV-2 proteins like the Spike protein and the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. These results not only present a useful computational methodology to systematically assess the anti-viral potential of small molecules, but also point out a new avenue to seek cooperative compounds toward cocktail therapeutics to target more SARS-CoV-2-related proteins.

  2. Virtual screening is a cost- and time-effective alternative to traditional high-throughput screening in the drug discovery process. Both virtual screening approaches, structure-based molecular docking and ligand-based cheminformatics, suffer from computational cost, low accuracy, and/or reliance on prior knowledge of a ligand that binds to a given target. Here, we propose a neural network framework, NeuralDock, which accelerates the process of high-quality computational docking by a factor of 10 6 , and does not require prior knowledge of a ligand that binds to a given target. By approximating both protein-small molecule conformational sampling and energy-based scoring, NeuralDock accurately predicts the binding energy, and affinity of a protein-small molecule pair, based on protein pocket 3D structure and small molecule topology. We use NeuralDock and 25 GPUs to dock 937 million molecules from the ZINC database against superoxide dismutase-1 in 21 h, which we validate with physical docking using MedusaDock. Due to its speed and accuracy, NeuralDock may be useful in brute-force virtual screening of massive chemical libraries and training of generative drug models.
  3. Abstract

    RNA dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), is an essential in the RNA replication within the life cycle of the severely acute respiratory coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), causing the deadly respiratory induced sickness COVID-19. Remdesivir is a prodrug that has seen some success in inhibiting this enzyme, however there is still the pressing need for effective alternatives. In this study, we present the discovery of four non-nucleoside small molecules that bind favorably to SARS-CoV-2 RdRp over the active form of the popular drug remdesivir (RTP) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by utilizing high-throughput virtual screening (HTVS) against the vast ZINC compound database coupled with extensive molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. After post-trajectory analysis, we found that the simulations of complexes containing both ATP and RTP remained stable for the duration of their trajectories. Additionally, it was revealed that the phosphate tail of RTP was stabilized by both the positive amino acid pocket and magnesium ions near the entry channel of RdRp which includes residues K551, R553, R555 and K621. It was also found that residues D623, D760, and N691 further stabilized the ribose portion of RTP with U10 on the template RNA strand forming hydrogen pairs with the adenosine motif. Using these models of RdRp,more »we employed them to screen the ZINC database of ~ 17 million molecules. Using docking and drug properties scoring, we narrowed down our selection to fourteen candidates. These were subjected to 200 ns simulations each underwent free energy calculations. We identified four hit compounds from the ZINC database that have similar binding poses to RTP while possessing lower overall binding free energies, with ZINC097971592 having a binding free energy two times lower than RTP.

    « less
  4. The structural and regulatory elements in therapeutically relevant RNAs offer many opportunities for targeting by small molecules, yet fundamental understanding of what drives selectivity in small molecule:RNA recognition has been a recurrent challenge. In particular, RNAs tend to be more dynamic and offer less chemical functionality than proteins, and biologically active ligands must compete with the highly abundant and highly structured RNA of the ribosome. Indeed, the only small molecule drug targeting RNA other than the ribosome was just approved in August 2020, and our recent survey of the literature revealed fewer than 150 reported chemical probes that target non-ribosomal RNA in biological systems. This Feature outlines our efforts to improve small molecule targeting strategies and gain fundamental insights into small molecule:RNA recognition by analyzing patterns in both RNA-biased small molecule chemical space and RNA topological space privileged for differentiation. First, we synthesized libraries based on RNA binding scaffolds that allowed us to reveal general principles in small molecule:recognition and to ask precise chemical questions about drivers of affinity and selectivity. Elaboration of these scaffolds has led to recognition of medicinally relevant RNA targets, including viral and long noncoding RNA structures. More globally, we identified physicochemical, structural, and spatial propertiesmore »of biologically active RNA ligands that are distinct from those of protein-targeted ligands, and we have provided the dataset and associated analytical tools as part of a publicly available online platform to facilitate RNA ligand discovery. At the same time, we used pattern recognition protocols to identify RNA topologies that can be differentially recognized by small molecules and have elaborated this technique to visualize conformational changes in RNA secondary structure. These fundamental insights into the drivers of RNA recognition in vitro have led to functional targeting of RNA structures in biological systems. We hope that these initial guiding principles, as well as the approaches and assays developed in their pursuit, will enable rapid progress toward the development of RNA-targeted chemical probes and ultimately new therapeutic approaches to a wide range of deadly human diseases.« less
  5. Elofsson, Arne (Ed.)
    Abstract Motivation Procedures for structural modeling of protein–protein complexes (protein docking) produce a number of models which need to be further analyzed and scored. Scoring can be based on independently determined constraints on the structure of the complex, such as knowledge of amino acids essential for the protein interaction. Previously, we showed that text mining of residues in freely available PubMed abstracts of papers on studies of protein–protein interactions may generate such constraints. However, absence of post-processing of the spotted residues reduced usability of the constraints, as a significant number of the residues were not relevant for the binding of the specific proteins. Results We explored filtering of the irrelevant residues by two machine learning approaches, Deep Recursive Neural Network (DRNN) and Support Vector Machine (SVM) models with different training/testing schemes. The results showed that the DRNN model is superior to the SVM model when training is performed on the PMC-OA full-text articles and applied to classification (interface or non-interface) of the residues spotted in the PubMed abstracts. When both training and testing is performed on full-text articles or on abstracts, the performance of these models is similar. Thus, in such cases, there is no need to utilize computationally demandingmore »DRNN approach, which is computationally expensive especially at the training stage. The reason is that SVM success is often determined by the similarity in data/text patterns in the training and the testing sets, whereas the sentence structures in the abstracts are, in general, different from those in the full text articles. Availabilityand implementation The code and the datasets generated in this study are available at https://gitlab.ku.edu/vakser-lab-public/text-mining/-/tree/2020-09-04. Supplementary information Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.« less