Accounting for Conformational Variability in Protein–Ligand Docking with NMR-Guided Rescoring

L Skjærven, L Codutti, A Angelini, M Grimaldi, D Latek, P Monecke, MK Dreyer & T Carlomagno

Journal of the American Chemical Society


A key component to success in structure-based drug design is reliable information on protein–ligand interactions. Recent development in NMR techniques has accelerated this process by overcoming some of the limitations of X-ray crystallography and computational protein–ligand docking. In this work we present a new scoring protocol based on NMR-derived interligand INPHARMA NOEs to guide the selection of computationally generated docking modes. We demonstrate the performance in a range of scenarios, encompassing traditionally difficult cases such as docking to homology models and ligand dependent domain rearrangements. Ambiguities associated with sparse experimental information are lifted by searching a consensus solution based on simultaneously fitting multiple ligand pairs. This study provides a previously unexplored integration between molecular modeling and experimental data, in which interligand NOEs represent the key element in the rescoring algorithm. The presented protocol should be widely applicable for protein–ligand docking also in a different context from drug design and highlights the important role of NMR-based approaches to describe intermolecular ligand–receptor interactions.