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Large Scale Study of Ligand-Protein Relative Binding Free Energy Calculations: Actionable Predictions from Statistically Robust Protocols

Bhati, Agastya P; Coveney, Peter V; (2022) Large Scale Study of Ligand-Protein Relative Binding Free Energy Calculations: Actionable Predictions from Statistically Robust Protocols. Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation 10.1021/acs.jctc.1c01288. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

The accurate and reliable prediction of protein-ligand binding affinities can play a central role in the drug discovery process as well as in personalized medicine. Of considerable importance during lead optimization are the alchemical free energy methods that furnish an estimation of relative binding free energies (RBFE) of similar molecules. Recent advances in these methods have increased their speed, accuracy, and precision. This is evident from the increasing number of retrospective as well as prospective studies employing them. However, such methods still have limited applicability in real-world scenarios due to a number of important yet unresolved issues. Here, we report the findings from a large data set comprising over 500 ligand transformations spanning over 300 ligands binding to a diverse set of 14 different protein targets which furnish statistically robust results on the accuracy, precision, and reproducibility of RBFE calculations. We use ensemble-based methods which are the only way to provide reliable uncertainty quantification given that the underlying molecular dynamics is chaotic. These are implemented using TIES (Thermodynamic Integration with Enhanced Sampling). Results achieve chemical accuracy in all cases. Ensemble simulations also furnish information on the statistical distributions of the free energy calculations which exhibit non-normal behavior. We find that the "enhanced sampling" method known as replica exchange with solute tempering degrades RBFE predictions. We also report definitively on numerous associated alchemical factors including the choice of ligand charge method, flexibility in ligand structure, and the size of the alchemical region including the number of atoms involved in transforming one ligand into another. Our findings provide a key set of recommendations that should be adopted for the reliable application of RBFE methods.

Type: Article
Title: Large Scale Study of Ligand-Protein Relative Binding Free Energy Calculations: Actionable Predictions from Statistically Robust Protocols
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jctc.1c01288
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jctc.1c01288
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under an Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Chemistry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10145680
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