Ligand-protein association is the first and critical step for many biological and chemical processes. This study investigated the molecular association processes under different environments. In biology, cells have different compartments where ligand-protein binding may occur on a membrane. In experiments involving ligand-protein binding, such as the surface plasmon resonance and continuous flow biosynthesis, a substrate flow and surface are required in experimental settings. As compared with a simple binding condition, which includes only the ligand, protein, and solvent, the association rate and processes may be affected by additional ligand transporting forces and other intermolecular interactions between the ligand and environmental objects. We evaluated these environmental factors by using a ligand xk263 binding to HIV protease (HIVp) with atomistic details. Using Brownian dynamics simulations, we modeled xk263 and HIVp association time and probability when a system has xk263 diffusion flux and a non-polar self-assembled monolayer surface. We also examined different protein orientations and accessible surfaces for xk263. To allow xk263 to access to the dimer interface of immobilized HIVp, we simulated the system by placing the protein 20Å above the surface because immobilizing HIVp on a surface prevented xk263 from contacting with the interface. The non-specific interactions increased the binding probability while the association time remained unchanged. When the xk263 diffusion flux increased, the effective xk263 concentration around HIVp, xk263-HIVp association time and binding probability decreased non-linearly regardless of interacting with the self-assembled monolayer surface or not. The work sheds light on the effects of the solvent flow and surface environment on ligand-protein associations and provides a perspective on experimental design.
This work describes an example of using Brownian dynamics in kinetic calculations.