We are pleased to announce the publication of this paper, in the journal ‘Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences’.


Molecular-docking programs coupled with suitable scoring functions are now established and very useful tools enabling computational chemists to rapidly screen large chemical databases and thereby to identify promising candidate compounds for further experimental processing. In a broader scenario, predicting binding affinity is one of the most critical and challenging components of computer-aided structure-based drug design. The development of a molecular docking scoring function which in principle could combine both features, namely ranking putative poses and predicting complex affinity, would be of paramount importance. Here, we systematically investigated the performance of the MM-PBSA approach, using two different Poisson–Boltzmann solvers (APBS and DelPhi), in the currently rising field of protein-peptide interactions (PPIs), identifying the correct binding conformations of 19 different protein-peptide complexes and predicting their binding free energies. First, we scored the decoy structures from HADDOCK calculation via the MM-PBSA approach in order to assess the capability of retrieving near-native poses in the best-scoring clusters and of evaluating the corresponding free energies of binding. MM-PBSA behaves well in finding the poses corresponding to the lowest binding free energy, however the built-in HADDOCK score shows a better performance. In order to improve the MM-PBSA-based scoring function, we dampened the MM-PBSA solvation and coulombic terms by 0.2, as proposed in the HADDOCK score and LIE approaches. The new dampened MM-PBSA (dMM-PBSA) outperforms the original MM-PBSA and ranks the decoys structures as the HADDOCK score does. Second, we found a good correlation between the dMM-PBSA and HADDOCK scores for the near-native clusters of each system and the experimental binding energies, respectively. Therefore, we propose a new scoring function, dMM-PBSA, to be used together with the built-in HADDOCK score in the context of protein-peptide docking simulations.


Spiliotopoulos Dimitrios, Kastritis Panagiotis L., Melquiond Adrien S. J., Bonvin Alexandre M. J. J., Musco Giovanna, Rocchia Walter, Spitaleri Andrea. “dMM-PBSA: A New HADDOCK Scoring Function for Protein-Peptide Docking.” Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences. 2016. vol 3. DOI: 10.3389/fmolb.2016.00046

Full Text