Fully automated molecular mechanics based induced fit protein-ligand docking method

J Chem Inf Model. 2008 Oct;48(10):1965-73. doi: 10.1021/ci800081s. Epub 2008 Sep 25.


We describe a method for docking a ligand into a protein receptor while allowing flexibility of the protein binding site. The method employs a multistep procedure that begins with the generation of protein and ligand conformations. An initial placement of the ligand is then performed by computing binding site hotspots. This initial placement is followed by a protein side-chain refinement stage that models protein flexibility. The final step of the process is an energy minimization of the ligand pose in the presence of the rigid receptor. Thus the algorithm models flexibility of the protein at two stages, before and after ligand placement. We validated this method by performing docking and cross docking studies of eight protein systems for which crystal structures were available for at least two bound ligands. The resulting rmsd values of the 21 docked protein-ligand complexes showed values of 2 A or less for all but one of the systems examined. The method has two critical benefits for high throughput virtual screening studies. First, no user intervention is required in the docking once the initial binding site selection has been made in the protein. Second, the initial protein conformation generation needs to be performed only once for a given binding region. Also, the method may be customized in various ways depending on the particular scenario in which dockings are being performed. Each of the individual steps of the method is fully independent making it straightforward to explore different variants of the high level workflow to further improve accuracy and performance.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Computer Simulation
  • Ligands*
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Protein Binding*
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Ligands
  • Proteins