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Investigating drug-target association and dissociation mechanisms using metadynamics-based algorithms.

Cavalli, A; Spitaleri, A; Saladino, G; Gervasio, FL; (2015) Investigating drug-target association and dissociation mechanisms using metadynamics-based algorithms. Accounts of Chemical Research , 48 (2) 277 - 285. 10.1021/ar500356n. Green open access

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Abstract

CONSPECTUS: This Account highlights recent advances and discusses major challenges in the field of drug-target recognition, binding, and unbinding studied using metadynamics-based approaches, with particular emphasis on their role in structure-based design. Computational chemistry has significantly contributed to drug design and optimization in an extremely broad range of areas, including prediction of target druggability and drug likeness, de novo design, fragment screening, ligand docking, estimation of binding affinity, and modulation of ADMET (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, toxicity) properties. Computationally driven drug discovery must continuously adapt to keep pace with the evolving knowledge of the factors that modulate the pharmacological action of drugs. There is thus an urgent need for novel computational approaches that integrate the vast amount of complex information currently available for small (bio)organic compounds, biologically relevant targets and their complexes, while also accounting accurately for the thermodynamics and kinetics of drug-target association, the intrinsic dynamical behavior of biomolecular systems, and the complexity of protein-protein networks. Understanding the mechanism of drug binding to and unbinding from biological targets is fundamental for optimizing lead compounds and designing novel biologically active ones. One major challenge is the accurate description of the conformational complexity prior to and upon formation of drug-target complexes. Recently, enhanced sampling methods, including metadynamics and related approaches, have been successfully applied to investigate complex mechanisms of drugs binding to flexible targets. Metadynamics is a family of enhanced sampling techniques aimed at enhancing the rare events and reconstructing the underlying free energy landscape as a function of a set of order parameters, usually referred to as collective variables. Studies of drug binding mechanisms have predicted the most probable association and dissociation pathways and the related binding free energy profile. In addition, the availability of an efficient open-source implementation, running on cost-effective GPU (i.e., graphical processor unit) architectures, has considerably decreased the learning curve and the computational costs of the methods, and increased their adoption by the community. Here, we review the recent contributions of metadynamics and other enhanced sampling methods to the field of drug-target recognition and binding. We discuss how metadynamics has been used to search for transition states, to predict binding and unbinding paths, to treat conformational flexibility, and to compute free energy profiles. We highlight the importance of such predictions in drug discovery. Major challenges in the field and possible solutions will finally be discussed.

Type: Article
Title: Investigating drug-target association and dissociation mechanisms using metadynamics-based algorithms.
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1021/ar500356n
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ar500356n
Language: English
Additional information: This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in Accounts of Chemical Research, copyright © American Chemical Society after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ar500356n
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1462810
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