Understanding the binding of inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases by molecular docking, quantum mechanical calculations, molecular dynamics simulations, and a MMGBSA/MMBappl study†
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) consist of a class of proteins required for normal tissue function. Their over expression is associated with many disease states and hence the interest in MMPs as drug targets. Almost all MMP inhibitors have been reported to fail in clinical trials due to lack of specificity. Zinc in the binding site of metalloproteinases performs essential biological functions and contributes to the binding affinity of inhibitors. The multiple possibilities for coordination geometry and the consequent charge on the zinc atom indicate that parameters developed are not directly transferable across different families of zinc metalloproteinases with different zinc coordination geometries, active sites and ligand architectures which makes it difficult to evaluate metal–ligand interactions. In order to assist in drug design endeavors for MMP targets, a computationally tractable pathway is presented, comprising docking of small molecule inhibitors against the target MMPs, derivation of quantum mechanical charges on the zinc ion in the active site and the amino acids coordinating with zinc including the inhibitor molecule, molecular dynamics simulations on the docked ligand–MMP complexes and evaluation of binding affinities of the ligand–MMP complexes via an accurate scoring function for zinc containing metalloprotein–ligand complexes. The above pathway was applied to study the interaction of inhibitor Batimastat with MMPs, which resulted in a high correlation between the predicted binding free energies and experiment, suggesting the potential applicability of the pathway. We then proceeded to formulate a few design principles which identify the key protein residues for generating molecules with high affinity and specificity against each of the MMPs.