Molecular dynamics simulation of tryptophan hydroxylase-1: binding modes and free energy analysis to phenylalanine derivative inhibitors

Int J Mol Sci. 2013 May 10;14(5):9947-62. doi: 10.3390/ijms14059947.


Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that modulates many central and peripheral functions. Tryptophan hydroxylase-1 (TPH1) is a key enzyme of serotonin synthesis. In the current study, the interaction mechanism of phenylalanine derivative TPH1 inhibitors was investigated using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, free energy calculations, free energy decomposition analysis and computational alanine scanning. The predicted binding free energies of these complexes are consistent with the experimental data. The analysis of the individual energy terms indicates that although the van der Waals and electrostatics interaction contributions are important in distinguishing the binding affinities of these inhibitors, the electrostatic contribution plays a more crucial role in that. Moreover, it is observed that different configurations of the naphthalene substituent could form different binding patterns with protein, yet lead to similar inhibitory potency. The combination of different molecular modeling techniques is an efficient way to interpret the interaction mechanism of inhibitors and our work could provide valuable information for the TPH1 inhibitor design in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Phenylalanine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Phenylalanine / pharmacology*
  • Protein Binding
  • Thermodynamics
  • Tryptophan Hydroxylase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Tryptophan Hydroxylase / chemistry
  • Tryptophan Hydroxylase / metabolism*


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Phenylalanine
  • TPH1 protein, human
  • Tryptophan Hydroxylase