Automated free energy calculations for the prediction of binding free energies of congeneric series of ligands to a protein target are growing in popularity, but building reliable initial binding poses for the ligands is challenging. Here, we introduce the open-source FEgrow workflow for building user-defined congeneric series of ligands in protein binding pockets for input to free energy calculations. For a given ligand core and receptor structure, FEgrow enumerates and optimises the bioactive conformations of the grown functional group(s), making use of hybrid machine learning/molecular mechanics potential energy functions where possible. Low energy structures are optionally scored using the gnina convolutional neural network scoring function, and output for more rigorous protein–ligand binding free energy predictions. We illustrate use of the workflow by building and scoring binding poses for ten congeneric series of ligands bound to targets from a standard, high quality dataset of protein–ligand complexes. Furthermore, we build a set of 13 inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 main protease from the literature, and use free energy calculations to retrospectively compute their relative binding free energies. FEgrow is freely available at https://github.com/cole-group/FEgrow, along with a tutorial.

Fuente: Communications Chemistry

Published: 27 October 2022