Role of Desolvation in Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Ligand Binding to a Kinase

J Chem Theory Comput. 2014 Dec 9;10(12):5696-5705. doi: 10.1021/ct500584n. Epub 2014 Nov 13.


Computer simulations are used to determine the free energy landscape for the binding of the anticancer drug Dasatinib to its src kinase receptor and show that before settling into a free energy basin the ligand must surmount a free energy barrier. An analysis based on using both the ligand-pocket separation and the pocket-water occupancy as reaction coordinates shows that the free energy barrier is a result of the free energy cost for almost complete desolvation of the binding pocket. The simulations further show that the barrier is not a result of the reorganization free energy of the binding pocket. Although a continuum solvent model gives the location of free energy minima, it is not able to reproduce the intermediate free energy barrier. Finally, it is shown that a kinetic model for the on rate constant in which the ligand diffuses up to a doorway state and then surmounts the desolvation free energy barrier is consistent with published microsecond time-scale simulations of the ligand binding kinetics for this system [Shaw, D. E. et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc.2011, 133, 9181-9183].

Grant support

National Institutes of Health, United States