Thermodynamic Insight into the Effects of Water Displacement and Rearrangement upon Ligand Modifications using Molecular Dynamics Simulations.ChemMedChem 2018; 13(13):1325-1335C
Computational methods, namely molecular dynamics (MD) simulations in combination with inhomogeneous fluid solvation theory (IFST) were used to retrospectively investigate various cases of ligand structure modifications that led to the displacement of binding site water molecules. Our findings are that water displacement per se is energetically unfavorable in the discussed examples, and that it is merely the fine balance between change in protein-ligand interaction energy, ligand solvation free energies, and binding site solvation free energies that determine if water displacement is favorable or not. We furthermore evaluated if we can reproduce experimental binding affinities by a computational approach combining changes in solvation free energies with changes in protein-ligand interaction energies and entropies. In two of the seven cases, this estimation led to large errors, implying that accurate predictions of relative binding free energies based on solvent thermodynamics is challenging. Nevertheless, MD simulations can provide insight regarding which water molecules can be targeted for displacement.