Exploring Ligand Binding in HIV-1 Protease and K+ Channels Using Computational Methods

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Understanding protein-ligand interactions is highly important in drug development. In the present work the objective is to comprehend the link between structure and function using molecular modelling. Specifically, this thesis has been focused on implementation of receptor flexibility in molecular docking and studying structure-activity relationships of potassium ion channels and their blockers.In ligand docking simulations protein motion and heterogeneity of structural waters are approximated using an ensemble of protein structures. Four methods of combining multiple target structures within a single grid-based lookup table of interaction energies are tested. Two weighted average methods permit consistent and accurate ligand docking using a single grid representation of the target protein structures.Quaternary ammonium ions (QAIs) are well known K+ channel blockers. Conformations around C–N bonds at the quaternary centre in tetraalkylammonium ions in water solution are investigated using quantum mechanical methods. Relative solvation free energies of QAIs are further estimated from molecular dynamics simulations. The torsion barrier for a two-step interconversion between the conformations D2d and S4 is calculated to be 9.5 kcal mol–1. Furthermore D2d is found to be more stable than the S4 conformation which is in agreement with experimental studies. External QAI binding to the K+ channel KcsA is also studied. Computer simulations and relative binding free energies of the KcsA complexes with QAIs are calculated. This is done with the molecular dynamics free energy perturbation approach together with automated ligand docking. In agreement with experiment, the Et4N+ blocker in D2d symmetry has better binding than the other QAIs.Binding of blockers to the human cardiac hERG potassium channel is studied using a combination of homology modelling, automated docking and molecular dynamics simulations. The calculations reproduce the relative binding affinities of a set of drug derivatives very well and indicate that both polar interactions near the intracellular opening of the selectivity filter as well as hydrophobic complementarity in the region around F656 are important for blocker binding. Hence, the derived model of hERG should be useful for further interpretations of structure-activity relationships.