Virtual screening against metalloenzymes for inhibitors and substrates

Biochemistry. 2005 Sep 20;44(37):12316-28. doi: 10.1021/bi050801k.


Molecular docking uses the three-dimensional structure of a receptor to screen databases of small molecules for potential ligands, often based on energetic complementarity. For many docking scoring functions, which calculate nonbonded interactions, metalloenzymes are challenging because of the partial covalent nature of metal-ligand interactions. To investigate how well molecular docking can identify potential ligands of metalloenzymes using a "standard" scoring function, we have docked the MDL Drug Data Report (MDDR), a functionally annotated database of 95,000 small molecules, against the X-ray crystal structures of five metalloenzymes. These enzymes included three zinc proteases, the nickel analogue of an iron enzyme, and a molybdenum metalloenzyme. The ability of the docking program to retrospectively enrich the annotated ligands as high-scoring hits for each enzyme and to calculate proper geometries was evaluated. In all five systems, the annotated ligands within the MDDR were enriched at least 20 times over random. To test the approach prospectively, a sixth target, the zinc beta-lactamase from Bacteroides fragilis, was screened against the fragment-like subset of the ZINC database. We purchased and tested 15 compounds from among the top 50 top-ranked ligands from docking, and found 5 inhibitors with apparent K(i) values less than 120 microM, the best of which was 2 microM. A more ambitious test still was predicting actual substrates for a seventh target, a Zn-dependent phosphotriesterase from Pseudomonas diminuta. Screening the Available Chemicals Directory (ACD) identified 25 thiophosphate esters as potential substrates within the top 100 ranked compounds. Eight of these, all previously uncharacterized for this enzyme, were acquired and tested, and all were confirmed experimentally as substrates. These results suggest that a simple, noncovalent scoring function may be used to identify inhibitors of at least some metalloenzymes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Databases, Protein
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Enzymes / chemistry
  • Enzymes / metabolism
  • Metalloproteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Metalloproteins / chemistry
  • Metalloproteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Pseudomonas / enzymology
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Triose-Phosphate Isomerase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Triose-Phosphate Isomerase / chemistry
  • Triose-Phosphate Isomerase / metabolism


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Enzymes
  • Metalloproteins
  • Triose-Phosphate Isomerase