MMGB/SA Consensus Estimate of the Binding Free Energy Between the Novel Coronavirus Spike Protein to the Human ACE2 Receptor

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
N. Forouzesh, Alexey V Onufriev


The ability to estimate protein-protein binding free energy in a computationally efficient via a physics-based approach is beneficial to research focused on the mechanism of viruses binding to their target proteins. Implicit solvation methodology may be particularly useful in the early stages of such research, as it can offer valuable insights into the binding process, quickly. Here we evaluate the potential of the related molecular mechanics generalized Born surface area (MMGB/SA) approach to estimate the binding free energy Δ G bind between the SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domain and the human ACE2 receptor. The calculations are based on a recent flavor of the generalized Born model, GBNSR6. Two estimates of Δ G bind are performed: one based on standard bondi radii, and the other based on a newly developed set of atomic radii (OPT1), optimized specifically for protein-ligand binding. We take the average of the resulting two Δ G bind values as the consensus estimate. For the well-studied Ras-Raf protein-protein complex, which has similar binding free energy to that of the SARS-CoV-2/ACE2 complex, the consensus Δ G bind = -11.8 ± 1 kcal/mol, vs. experimental -9.7 ± 0.2 kcal/mol. The consensus estimates for the SARS-CoV...Continue Reading


May 1, 2021·Molecules : a Journal of Synthetic Chemistry and Natural Product Chemistry·N. Forouzesh, Nikita Mishra

Methods Mentioned

isothermal titration calorimetry
surface plasmon resonance

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