Flexibility and binding affinity in protein-ligand, protein-protein and multi-component protein interactions: limitations of current computational approaches

J R Soc Interface. 2012 Jan 7;9(66):20-33. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2011.0584. Epub 2011 Oct 12.


The recognition process between a protein and a partner represents a significant theoretical challenge. In silico structure-based drug design carried out with nothing more than the three-dimensional structure of the protein has led to the introduction of many compounds into clinical trials and numerous drug approvals. Central to guiding the discovery process is to recognize active among non-active compounds. While large-scale computer simulations of compounds taken from a library (virtual screening) or designed de novo are highly desirable in the post-genomic area, many technical problems remain to be adequately addressed. This article presents an overview and discusses the limits of current computational methods for predicting the correct binding pose and accurate binding affinity. It also presents the performances of the most popular algorithms for exploring binary and multi-body protein interactions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Binding Sites
  • Computational Biology / trends*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Databases, Protein
  • Ligands
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs
  • Protein Interaction Mapping / trends*
  • Proteins / chemistry*


  • Ligands
  • Proteins