The discovery of new drugs is a time consuming and expensive process. Methods such as virtual screening, which can filter out ineffective compounds from drug libraries prior to expensive experimental study, have become popular research topics. As the computational drug discovery community has grown, in order to benchmark the various advances in methodology, organizations such as the Drug Design Data Resource have begun hosting blinded grand challenges seeking to identify the best methods for ligand pose-prediction, ligand affinity ranking, and free energy calculations. Such open challenges offer a unique opportunity for researchers to partner with junior students (e.g., high school and undergraduate) to validate basic yet fundamental hypotheses considered to be uninteresting to domain experts. Here, we, a group of high school-aged students and their mentors, present the results of our participation in Grand Challenge 4 where we predicted ligand affinity rankings for the Cathepsin S protease, an important protein target for autoimmune diseases. To investigate the effect of incorporating receptor dynamics on ligand affinity rankings, we employed the Relaxed Complex Scheme, a molecular docking method paired with molecular dynamics-generated receptor conformations. We found that Cathepsin S is a difficult target for molecular docking and we explore some advanced more »
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design
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- p. 87-99
- Springer Science + Business Media
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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A multiple-step in silico screening protocol to identify allosteric inhibitors of Spike–hACE2 bindingWhile the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen, effective medicines that target the life cycle of SARS-CoV-2 are still under development. As more highly infective and dangerous variants of the coronavirus emerge, the protective power of vaccines will decrease or vanish. Thus, the development of drugs, which are free of drug resistance is direly needed. The aim of this study is to identify allosteric binding modulators from a large compound library to inhibit the binding between the Spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2). The binding of the Spike protein to hACE2 is the first step of the infection of host cells by the coronavirus. We first built a compound library containing 77 448 antiviral compounds. Molecular docking was then conducted to preliminarily screen compounds which can potently bind to the Spike protein at two allosteric binding sites. Next, molecular dynamics simulations were performed to accurately calculate the binding affinity between the spike protein and an identified compound from docking screening and to investigate whether the compound can interfere with the binding between the Spike protein and hACE2. We successfully identified two possible drug binding sites on the Spike protein and discovered a series of antiviral compoundsmore »
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.
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