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Water in cavity-ligand recognition.

  • Author(s): Baron, Riccardo
  • Setny, Piotr
  • McCammon, J Andrew
  • et al.

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We use explicit solvent molecular dynamics simulations to estimate free energy, enthalpy, and entropy changes along the cavity-ligand association coordinate for a set of seven model systems with varying physicochemical properties. Owing to the simplicity of the considered systems we can directly investigate the role of water thermodynamics in molecular recognition. A broad range of thermodynamic signatures is found in which water (rather than cavity or ligand) enthalpic or entropic contributions appear to drive cavity-ligand binding or rejection. The unprecedented, nanoscale picture of hydration thermodynamics can help the interpretation and design of protein-ligand binding experiments. Our study opens appealing perspectives to tackle the challenge of solvent entropy estimation in complex systems and for improving molecular simulation models.

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