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Title: Improving rapid affinity calculations for drug-protein interactions
Author: Ross, Gregory A.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The rationalisation of drug potency using three-dimensional structures of protein-ligand complexes is a central paradigm in medicinal research. For over two decades, a major goal has been to find the rules that accurately relate the structure of any protein-ligand complex to its affinity. Addressing this problem is of great concern to the pharmaceutical industry, which uses virtual screens to computationally assay up to many millions of compounds against a protein target. A fast and trustworthy affinity estimator could potentially streamline the drug discovery process, reducing reliance on expensive wet lab experiments, speeding up the discovery of new hits and aiding lead optimization. Water plays a critical role in drug-protein interactions. To address the often ambiguous nature of water in binding sites, a water placement method was developed and found to be in good agreement with X-ray crystallography, neutron diffraction data and molecular dynamics simulations. The method is fast and has facilitated a large scale study of the statistics of water in ligand binding sites, as well as the creation of models pertaining to water binding free energies and displacement propensities, which are of particular interest to medicinal chemistry. Structure-based scoring functions employing the explicit water models were developed. Surprisingly, these attempts were no more accurate than the current state of the art, and the models suffered from the same inadequacies which have plagued all previous scoring functions. This suggests a unifying cause behind scoring function inaccuracy. Accordingly, mathematical analyses on the fundamental uncertainties in structure-based modelling were conducted. Using statistical learning theory and information theory, the existence of inherent errors in empirical scoring functions was proven. Among other results, it was found that even the very best generalised structure-based model is significantly limited in its accuracy, and protein-specific models are always likely to be better. The theoretical framework developed herein hints at modelling strategies that operate at the leading edge of achievable accuracy.
Supervisor: Biggin, Philip; Garrett, Morris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Computational chemistry ; Computational biochemistry ; Molecular biophysics (biochemistry) ; docking ; scoring-function ; drug-design ; water ; molecular-modelling ; simulations ; hydrophobicity