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A common strategy for virtual screening considers a systematic docking of a large library of organic compounds into the target sites in protein receptors with promising leads selected based on favorable intermolecular interactions. Despite a continuous progress in the modeling of protein-ligand interactions for pharmaceutical design, important challenges still remain, thus the development of novel techniques is required. In this communication, we describe eSimDock, a new approach to ligand docking and binding affinity prediction. eSimDock employs nonlinear machine learning-based scoring functions to improve the accuracy of ligand ranking and similarity-based binding pose prediction, and to increase the tolerance to structural imperfections in the target structures. In large-scale benchmarking using the Astex/CCDC data set, we show that 53.9% (67.9%) of the predicted ligand poses have RMSD of <2 >Å (<3 >Å). Moreover, using binding sites predicted by recently developed eFindSite, eSimDock models ligand binding poses with an RMSD of 4 Å for 50.0-39.7% of the complexes at the protein homology level limited to 80-40%. Simulations against non-native receptor structures, whose mean backbone rearrangements vary from 0.5 to 5.0 Å Cα-RMSD, show that the ratio of docking accuracy and the estimated upper bound is at a constant level of ∼0.65. Pearson correlation coefficient between experimental and predicted by eSimDock Ki values for a large data set of the crystal structures of protein-ligand complexes from BindingDB is 0.58, which decreases only to 0.46 when target structures distorted to 3.0 Å Cα-RMSD are used. Finally, two case studies demonstrate that eSimDock can be customized to specific applications as well. These encouraging results show that the performance of eSimDock is largely unaffected by the deformations of ligand binding regions, thus it represents a practical strategy for across-proteome virtual screening using protein models. eSimDock is freely available to the academic community as a Web server at © 2013 American Chemical Society.

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Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling

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