Ligand binding thermodynamics and kinetics are critical parameters for drug design. However, it has proven challenging to efficiently predict ligand binding thermodynamics and kinetics from molecular simulations due to limited simulation timescales. Protein dynamics, especially in the ligand binding pocket, often plays an important role in ligand binding. Based on our previously developed Ligand Gaussian accelerated molecular dynamics (LiGaMD), here we present LiGaMD2 in which a selective boost potential was applied to both the ligand and protein residues in the binding pocket to improve sampling of ligand binding and dissociation. To validate the performance of LiGaMD2, the T4 lysozyme (T4L) mutants with open and closed pockets bound by different ligands were chosen as model systems. LiGaMD2 could efficiently capture repetitive ligand dissociation and binding within microsecond simulations of all T4L systems. The obtained ligand binding kinetic rates and free energies agreed well with available experimental values and previous modeling results. Therefore, LiGaMD2 provides an improved approach to sample opening of closed protein pockets for ligand dissociation and binding, thereby allowing for efficient calculations of ligand binding thermodynamics and kinetics.
This work describes an example of using Accelerated MD in kinetic calculations.