Automated docking refinement and virtual compound screening with absolute binding free energy calculations

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Germano Heinzelmann, M. K. Gilson


Absolute binding free energy calculations with explicit solvent molecular simulations can provide estimates of protein-ligand affinities, and thus reduce the time and costs needed to find new drug candidates. However, these calculations can be complex to implement and perform. Here, we introduce the software, a Python tool that invokes the AMBER simulation package to fully automate the calculation of binding free energies for a protein with a series of ligands. We report encouraging initial test applications of this software both to re-rank docked poses and to estimate overall binding free energies. We also show that it is practical to carry out these calculations cheaply by using graphical processing units in common machines that can be built for this purpose. The combination of automation and low cost allows this procedure to be applied in a relatively high-throughput mode, and thus enables new applications in early-stage drug discovery.

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