Journal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 305–323 | Cite as

An approximate but efficient method to calculate free energy trends by computer simulation: Application to dihydrofolate reductase-inhibitor complexes

  • Paul R. Gerber
  • Alan E. Mark
  • Wilfred F. van Gunsteren
Research Papers


Derivatives of free energy differences have been calculated by molecular dynamics techniques. The systems under study were ternary complexes of Trimethoprim (TMP) with dihydrofolate reductases of E. coli and chicken liver, containing the cofactor NADPH. Derivatives are taken with respect to modification of TMP, with emphasis on altering the 3-, 4- and 5-substituents of the phenyl ring. A linear approximation allows the encompassing of a whole set of modifications in a single simulation, as opposed to a full perturbation calculation, which requires a separate simulation for each modification. In the case considered here, the proposed technique requires a factor of 1000 less computing effort than a full free energy perturbation calculation. For the linear approximation to yield a significant result, one has to find ways of choosing the perturbation evolution, such that the initial trend mirrors the full calculation. The generation of new atoms requires a careful treatment of the singular terms in the non-bonded interaction. The result can be represented by maps of the changed molecule, which indicate whether complex formation is favoured under movement of partial charges and change in atom polarizabilities. Comparison with experimental measurements of inhibition constants reveals fair agreement in the range of values covered. However, detailed comparison fails to show a significant correlation. Possible reasons for the most pronounced deviations are given.

Key words

Molecular dynamics Free energy differences Linear approximation DHFR-inhibitor complexes 


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Copyright information

© ESCOM Science Publishers B.V 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul R. Gerber
    • 1
  • Alan E. Mark
    • 2
  • Wilfred F. van Gunsteren
    • 2
  1. 1.Pharmaceutical Research and DevelopmentF. Hoffmann-La Roche AGBasleSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Physical ChemistrySwiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich, ETH-ZentrumZürichSwitzerland

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