Solvated interaction energy (SIE) for scoring protein-ligand binding affinities. 1. Exploring the parameter space.
ABSTRACT We present a binding free energy function that consists of force field terms supplemented by solvation terms. We used this function to calibrate the solvation model along with the binding interaction terms in a self-consistent manner. The motivation for this approach was that the solute dielectric-constant dependence of calculated hydration gas-to-water transfer free energies is markedly different from that of binding free energies (J. Comput. Chem. 2003, 24, 954). Hence, we sought to calibrate directly the solvation terms in the context of a binding calculation. The five parameters of the model were systematically scanned to best reproduce the absolute binding free energies for a set of 99 protein-ligand complexes. We obtained a mean unsigned error of 1.29 kcal/mol for the predicted absolute binding affinity in a parameter space that was fairly shallow near the optimum. The lowest errors were obtained with solute dielectric values of Din = 20 or higher and scaling of the intermolecular van der Waals interaction energy by factors ranging from 0.03 to 0.15. The high apparent Din and strong van der Waals scaling may reflect the anticorrelation of the change in solvated potential energy and configurational entropy, that is, enthalpy-entropy compensation in ligand binding (Biophys. J. 2004, 87, 3035-3049). Five variations of preparing the protein-ligand data set were explored in order to examine the effect of energy refinement and the presence of bound water on the calculated results. We find that retaining water in the final protein structure used for calculating the binding free energy is not necessary to obtain good results; that is the continuum solvation model is sufficient. Virtual screening enrichment studies on estrogen receptor and thymidine kinase showed a good ability of the binding free energy function to recover true hits in a collection of decoys.