DOCK 6: combining techniques to model RNA-small molecule complexes

RNA. 2009 Jun;15(6):1219-30. doi: 10.1261/rna.1563609. Epub 2009 Apr 15.


With an increasing interest in RNA therapeutics and for targeting RNA to treat disease, there is a need for the tools used in protein-based drug design, particularly DOCKing algorithms, to be extended or adapted for nucleic acids. Here, we have compiled a test set of RNA-ligand complexes to validate the ability of the DOCK suite of programs to successfully recreate experimentally determined binding poses. With the optimized parameters and a minimal scoring function, 70% of the test set with less than seven rotatable ligand bonds and 26% of the test set with less than 13 rotatable bonds can be successfully recreated within 2 A heavy-atom RMSD. When DOCKed conformations are rescored with the implicit solvent models AMBER generalized Born with solvent-accessible surface area (GB/SA) and Poisson-Boltzmann with solvent-accessible surface area (PB/SA) in combination with explicit water molecules and sodium counterions, the success rate increases to 80% with PB/SA for less than seven rotatable bonds and 58% with AMBER GB/SA and 47% with PB/SA for less than 13 rotatable bonds. These results indicate that DOCK can indeed be useful for structure-based drug design aimed at RNA. Our studies also suggest that RNA-directed ligands often differ from typical protein-ligand complexes in their electrostatic properties, but these differences can be accommodated through the choice of potential function. In addition, in the course of the study, we explore a variety of newly added DOCK functions, demonstrating the ease with which new functions can be added to address new scientific questions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Binding Sites
  • Ligands
  • Models, Molecular
  • RNA / chemistry*
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Software*


  • Ligands
  • RNA