Exploring ligand stability in protein crystal structures using binding pose metadynamics

Lucia Fusani, David S. Palmer, Donald O. Somers, Ian D. Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Identification of correct protein-ligand binding poses is important in structure-based drug design and crucial for the evaluation of protein-ligand binding affinity. Protein-ligand coordinates are commonly obtained from crystallography experiments that provide a static model of an ensemble of conformations. Binding pose metadynamics (BPMD) is an enhanced sampling method that allows for an efficient assessment of ligand stability in solution. Ligand poses that are unstable under the bias of the metadynamics simulation are expected to be infrequently occupied in the energy landscape, thus making minimal contributions to the binding affinity. Here, the robustness of the method is studied using crystal structures with ligands known to be incorrectly modeled, as well as 63 structurally diverse crystal structures with ligand fit to electron density from the Twilight database. Results show that BPMD can successfully differentiate compounds whose binding pose is not supported by the electron density from those with well-defined electron density.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1528-1539
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Information and Modeling
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2020


  • crystal structures
  • electron density
  • ligand stability


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