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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Systematic exploitation of multiple receptor conformations for virtual ligand screening.

  • Author(s): Bottegoni, Giovanni
  • Rocchia, Walter
  • Rueda, Manuel
  • Abagyan, Ruben
  • Cavalli, Andrea
  • et al.

The role of virtual ligand screening in modern drug discovery is to mine large chemical collections and to prioritize for experimental testing a comparatively small and diverse set of compounds with expected activity against a target. Several studies have pointed out that the performance of virtual ligand screening can be improved by taking into account receptor flexibility. Here, we systematically assess how multiple crystallographic receptor conformations, a powerful way of discretely representing protein plasticity, can be exploited in screening protocols to separate binders from non-binders. Our analyses encompass 36 targets of pharmaceutical relevance and are based on actual molecules with reported activity against those targets. The results suggest that an ensemble receptor-based protocol displays a stronger discriminating power between active and inactive molecules as compared to its standard single rigid receptor counterpart. Moreover, such a protocol can be engineered not only to enrich a higher number of active compounds, but also to enhance their chemical diversity. Finally, some clear indications can be gathered on how to select a subset of receptor conformations that is most likely to provide the best performance in a real life scenario.

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