The Free Energy Landscape of Small Molecule Unbinding

PLoS Comput Biol. 2011 Feb;7(2):e1002002. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002002. Epub 2011 Feb 3.

Abstract

The spontaneous dissociation of six small ligands from the active site of FKBP (the FK506 binding protein) is investigated by explicit water molecular dynamics simulations and network analysis. The ligands have between four (dimethylsulphoxide) and eleven (5-diethylamino-2-pentanone) non-hydrogen atoms, and an affinity for FKBP ranging from 20 to 0.2 mM. The conformations of the FKBP/ligand complex saved along multiple trajectories (50 runs at 310 K for each ligand) are grouped according to a set of intermolecular distances into nodes of a network, and the direct transitions between them are the links. The network analysis reveals that the bound state consists of several subbasins, i.e., binding modes characterized by distinct intermolecular hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic contacts. The dissociation kinetics show a simple (i.e., single-exponential) time dependence because the unbinding barrier is much higher than the barriers between subbasins in the bound state. The unbinding transition state is made up of heterogeneous positions and orientations of the ligand in the FKBP active site, which correspond to multiple pathways of dissociation. For the six small ligands of FKBP, the weaker the binding affinity the closer to the bound state (along the intermolecular distance) are the transition state structures, which is a new manifestation of Hammond behavior. Experimental approaches to the study of fragment binding to proteins have limitations in temporal and spatial resolution. Our network analysis of the unbinding simulations of small inhibitors from an enzyme paints a clear picture of the free energy landscape (both thermodynamics and kinetics) of ligand unbinding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Pentanones
  • Protein Binding*
  • Protein Folding*
  • Tacrolimus Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • Tacrolimus Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Thermodynamics
  • Water

Substances

  • Pentanones
  • Water
  • Tacrolimus Binding Proteins
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide