The free energy landscape of small molecule unbinding.
ABSTRACT: The spontaneous dissociation of six small ligands from the active site of FKBP (the FK506 binding protein) is investigated by explicit water molecular dynamics simulations and network analysis. The ligands have between four (dimethylsulphoxide) and eleven (5-diethylamino-2-pentanone) non-hydrogen atoms, and an affinity for FKBP ranging from 20 to 0.2 mM. The conformations of the FKBP/ligand complex saved along multiple trajectories (50 runs at 310 K for each ligand) are grouped according to a set of intermolecular distances into nodes of a network, and the direct transitions between them are the links. The network analysis reveals that the bound state consists of several subbasins, i.e., binding modes characterized by distinct intermolecular hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic contacts. The dissociation kinetics show a simple (i.e., single-exponential) time dependence because the unbinding barrier is much higher than the barriers between subbasins in the bound state. The unbinding transition state is made up of heterogeneous positions and orientations of the ligand in the FKBP active site, which correspond to multiple pathways of dissociation. For the six small ligands of FKBP, the weaker the binding affinity the closer to the bound state (along the intermolecular distance) are the transition state structures, which is a new manifestation of Hammond behavior. Experimental approaches to the study of fragment binding to proteins have limitations in temporal and spatial resolution. Our network analysis of the unbinding simulations of small inhibitors from an enzyme paints a clear picture of the free energy landscape (both thermodynamics and kinetics) of ligand unbinding.
Project description:Understanding the governing factors of fast or slow inhibitor binding/unbinding assists in developing drugs with preferred kinetic properties. For inhibitors with the same binding affinity targeting different binding sites of the same protein, the kinetic behavior can profoundly differ. In this study, we investigated unbinding kinetics and mechanisms of fast (type-I) and slow (type-II/III) binders of p38? mitogen-activated protein kinase, where the crystal structures showed that type-I and type-II/III inhibitors bind to pockets with different conformations of the Asp-Phe-Gly (DFG) motif. The work used methods that combine conventional molecular dynamics (MD), accelerated molecular dynamics (AMD) simulations, and the newly developed pathway search guided by internal motions (PSIM) method to find dissociation pathways. The study focuses on revealing key interactions and molecular rearrangements that hinder ligand dissociation by using umbrella sampling and post-MD processing to examine changes in free energy during ligand unbinding. As anticipated, the initial dissociation steps all require breaking interactions that appeared in crystal structures of the bound complexes. Interestingly, for type-I inhibitors such as SB2, p38? keeps barrier-free conformational fluctuation in the ligand-bound complex and during ligand dissociation. In contrast, with a type-II/III inhibitor such as BIRB796, with the rearrangements of p38? in its bound state, ligand unbinding features energetically unfavorable protein-ligand concerted movement. Our results also show that the type-II/III inhibitors preferred dissociation pathways through the allosteric channel, which is consistent with an existing publication. The study suggests that the level of required protein rearrangement is one major determining factor of drug binding kinetics in p38? systems, providing useful information for development of inhibitors.
Project description:We compute the absolute binding affinities for two ligands bound to the FKBP protein using nonequilibrium unbinding simulations. The methodology is straightforward requiring little or no modification to many modern molecular simulation packages. The approach makes use of a physical pathway, eliminating the need for complicated alchemical decoupling schemes. We compare our nonequilibrium results to those obtained via a fully equilibrium approach and to experiment. The results of this study suggest that to obtain accurate results using nonequilibrium approaches one should use the stiff-spring approximation with the second cumulant expansion. From this study we conclude that nonequilibrium simulation could provide a simple means to estimate protein-ligand binding affinities.
Project description:We study unbinding of multivalent cationic ligands from oppositely charged polymeric binding sites sparsely grafted on a flat neutral substrate. Our molecular dynamics simulations are suggested by single-molecule studies of protein-DNA interactions. We consider univalent salt concentrations spanning roughly a 1000-fold range, together with various concentrations of excess ligands in solution. To reveal the ionic effects on unbinding kinetics of spontaneous and facilitated dissociation mechanisms, we treat electrostatic interactions both at a Debye-Hückel (DH) (or implicit ions, i.e., use of an electrostatic potential with a prescribed decay length) level and by the more precise approach of considering all ionic species explicitly in the simulations. We find that the DH approach systematically overestimates unbinding rates, relative to the calculations where all ion pairs are present explicitly in solution, although many aspects of the two types of calculation are qualitatively similar. For facilitated dissociation (FD) (acceleration of unbinding by free ligands in solution) explicit-ion simulations lead to unbinding at lower free-ligand concentrations. Our simulations predict a variety of FD regimes as a function of free-ligand and ion concentrations; a particularly interesting regime is at intermediate concentrations of ligands where nonelectrostatic binding strength controls FD. We conclude that explicit-ion electrostatic modeling is an essential component to quantitatively tackle problems in molecular ligand dissociation, including nucleic-acid-binding proteins.
Project description:FK506-binding protein (FKBP) is a monomer that binds to FK506, rapamycin, and related ligands. The F36M substitution, in which Phe36 in the ligand-binding pocket is changed to Met, leads to formation of antiparallel FKBP dimers, which can be dissociated into monomers by ligand binding. This FKBP(M) mutant has been employed in the mammalian secretory pathway to generate aggregates that can be dissolved by ligand addition to create cargo waves. However, when testing this approach in yeast, we found that dissolution of FKBP(M) aggregates was inefficient. An improved reversibly dimerizing FKBP formed aggregates that dissolved more readily. This FKBP(L,V) mutant carries the F36L mutation, which increases the affinity of ligand binding, and the I90V mutation, which accelerates ligand-induced dissociation of the dimers. The FKBP(L,V) mutant expands the utility of reversibly dimerizing FKBP.
Project description:Recent experimental work has demonstrated facilitated dissociation of certain nucleoid-associated proteins that exhibit an unbinding rate that depends on the concentration of freely diffusing proteins or DNA in solution. This concentration dependence arises due to binding competition with these other proteins or DNA. The identity of the binding competitor leads to different qualitative trends, motivating an investigation to understand observed differences in facilitated dissociation. We use a coarse-grained simulation that takes into account the dimeric nature of many nucleoid-associated proteins by allowing an intermediate binding state. The addition of this partially bound state allows the protein to be unbound, partially bound, or fully bound to a DNA strand, leaving opportunities for other molecules in solution to participate in the unbinding mechanism. Previous models postulated symmetric binding energies for each state of the coarse-grained protein corresponding to the symmetry of the dimeric protein; this model relaxes this assumption by assigning different energies for the different steps in the unbinding process. Allowing different unbinding energies not only has equilibrium effects on the system, but kinetic effects as well. We were able to reproduce the unbinding trends seen experimentally for both DNA and protein competitors. All trends collapse to a universal curve regardless of the unbinding energies used or the identity of the dissociation facilitator, suggesting that facilitated dissociation can be described with a single set of scaling parameters that are related to the energy landscape and geometric nature of the competitors.
Project description:With a view to explaining the structure-affinity properties of the ligands of the protein FKBP12, we characterized a binding intermediate state between this protein and a high-affinity ligand. Indeed, the nature and extent of the intermolecular contacts developed in such a species may play a role on its stability and, hence, on the overall association rate. To find the binding intermediate, a molecular simulation protocol was used to unbind the ligand by gradually decreasing the biasing forces introduced. The intermediate was subsequently refined with 17 independent stochastic boundary molecular dynamics simulations that provide a consistent picture of the intermediate state. In this state, the core region of the ligand remains stable, notably because of the two anchoring oxygen atoms that correspond to recurrent motifs found in all FKBP12 ligand core structures. Besides, the non-core regions participate in numerous transient intermolecular and intramolecular contacts. The dynamic aspect of most of the contacts seems important both for the ligand to retain at least a part of its configurational entropy and for avoiding a trapped state along the binding pathway. Since the transient and anchoring contacts contribute to increasing the stability of the intermediate, as a corollary, the dissociation rate constant [Formula: see text] of this intermediate should be decreased, resulting in an increase of the affinity constant [Formula: see text]. The present results support our previous conclusions and provide a coherent rationale for explaining the prevalence in high-affinity ligands of (i) the two oxygen atoms found in carbonyl or sulfonyl groups of dissimilar core structures and of (ii) symmetric or pseudo-symmetric mobile groups of atoms found as non-core moieties. Another interesting aspect of the intermediate is the distortion of the flexible 80 s loop of the protein, mainly in its tip region, that promotes the accessibility to the bound state.
Project description:Riboswitches are a novel class of genetic control elements that function through the direct interaction of small metabolite molecules with structured RNA elements. The ligand is bound with high specificity and affinity to its RNA target and induces conformational changes of the RNA's secondary and tertiary structure upon binding. To elucidate the molecular basis of the remarkable ligand selectivity and affinity of one of these riboswitches, extensive all-atom molecular dynamics simulations in explicit solvent (approximately 1 micros total simulation length) of the aptamer domain of the guanine sensing riboswitch are performed. The conformational dynamics is studied when the system is bound to its cognate ligand guanine as well as bound to the non-cognate ligand adenine and in its free form. The simulations indicate that residue U51 in the aptamer domain functions as a general docking platform for purine bases, whereas the interactions between C74 and the ligand are crucial for ligand selectivity. These findings either suggest a two-step ligand recognition process, including a general purine binding step and a subsequent selection of the cognate ligand, or hint at different initial interactions of cognate and noncognate ligands with residues of the ligand binding pocket. To explore possible pathways of complex dissociation, various nonequilibrium simulations are performed which account for the first steps of ligand unbinding. The results delineate the minimal set of conformational changes needed for ligand release, suggest two possible pathways for the dissociation reaction, and underline the importance of long-range tertiary contacts for locking the ligand in the complex.
Project description:Ligand-protein binding kinetic rates are growing in importance as parameters to consider in drug discovery and lead optimization. In this study we analysed using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) the transition state (TS) properties of a set of six adenosine A2A receptor inhibitors, belonging to both the xanthine and the triazolo-triazine scaffolds. SPR highlighted interesting differences among the ligands in the enthalpic and entropic components of the TS energy barriers for the binding and unbinding events. To better understand at a molecular level these differences, we developed suMetaD, a novel molecular dynamics (MD)-based approach combining supervised MD and metadynamics. This method allows simulation of the ligand unbinding and binding events. It also provides the system conformation corresponding to the highest energy barrier the ligand is required to overcome to reach the final state. For the six ligands evaluated in this study their TS thermodynamic properties were linked in particular to the role of water molecules in solvating/desolvating the pocket and the small molecules. suMetaD identified kinetic bottleneck conformations near the bound state position or in the vestibule area. In the first case the barrier is mainly enthalpic, requiring the breaking of strong interactions with the protein. In the vestibule TS location the kinetic bottleneck is instead mainly of entropic nature, linked to the solvent behaviour.
Project description:Tetrameric cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels mediate receptor potentials in olfaction and vision. The channels are activated by the binding of cyclic nucleotides to a binding domain embedded in the C terminus of each subunit. Here using a fluorescent cGMP derivative (fcGMP), we show for homotetrameric CNGA2 channels that ligand unbinding is ~50 times faster at saturating than at subsaturating fcGMP. Analysis with complex Markovian models reveals two pathways for ligand unbinding; the partially liganded open channel unbinds its ligands from closed states only, whereas the fully liganded channel reaches a different open state from which it unbinds all four ligands rapidly. Consequently, the transition pathways for ligand binding and activation of a fully liganded CNGA2 channel differ from that of ligand unbinding and deactivation, resulting in pronounced hysteresis of the gating mechanism. This concentration-dependent gating mechanism allows the channels to respond to changes in the cyclic nucleotide concentration with different kinetics.
Project description:A prominent aqueous cavity is formed by the junction of three identical subunits in the excitatory amino acid transporter (EAAT) family. To investigate the effect of this structure on the interaction of ligands with the transporter, we recorded currents in voltage-clamped Xenopus oocytes expressing EAATs and used concentration jumps to measure binding and unbinding rates of a high-affinity aspartate analog that competitively blocks transport (?-2-fluorenyl-aspartylamide; 2-FAA). The binding rates of the blocker were approximately one order of magnitude slower than l-Glu and were not significantly different for EAAT1, EAAT2, or EAAT3, but 2-FAA exhibited higher affinity for the neuronal transporter EAAT3 as a result of a slower dissociation rate. Unexpectedly, the rate of recovery from block was increased by l-Glu in a saturable and concentration-dependent manner, ruling out a first-order mechanism and suggesting that following unbinding, there is a significant probability of ligand rebinding to the same or neighboring subunits within a trimer. Consistent with such a mechanism, coexpression of wild-type subunits with mutant (R447C) subunits that do not bind glutamate or 2-FAA also increased the unblocking rate. The data suggest that electrostatic and steric factors result in an effective dissociation rate that is approximately sevenfold slower than the microscopic subunit unbinding rate. The quaternary structure, which has been conserved through evolution, is expected to increase the transporters' capture efficiency by increasing the probability that following unbinding, a ligand will rebind as opposed to being lost to diffusion.