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The Confine-and-Release Method: Obtaining Correct Binding Free Energies in the Presence of Protein Conformational Change

The Confine-and-Release Method: Obtaining Correct Binding Free Energies in the Presence of Protein Conformational Change

Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation 3(4): 1231-1235

Free energy calculations are increasingly being used to estimate absolute and relative binding free energies of ligands to proteins. However, computed free energies often appear to depend on the initial protein conformation, indicating incomplete sampling. This is especially true when proteins can change conformation on ligand binding, as free energies associated with these conformational changes are either ignored or assumed to be included by virtue of the sampling performed in the calculation. Here, we show that, in a model protein system (a designed binding site in T4 Lysozyme), conformational changes can make a difference of several kcal/mol in computed binding free energies, and that they are neglected in computed binding free energies if the system remains kinetically trapped in a particular metastable state on simulation timescales. We introduce a general "confine-and-release" framework for free energy calculations that accounts for these free energies of conformational change. We illustrate its use in this model system by demonstrating that an umbrella sampling protocol can obtain converged binding free energies that are independent of the starting protein structure and include these conformational change free energies.

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Accession: 056174942

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 18843379

DOI: 10.1021/ct700032n

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