Influenza neuraminidase is an important drug target. Glycans are present on neuraminidase and are generally considered to inhibit antibody binding via their glycan shield. In this work, we studied the effect of glycans on the binding kinetics of antiviral drugs to the influenza neuraminidase. We created all-atom in silico systems of influenza neuraminidase with experimentally derived glycoprofiles consisting of four systems with different glycan conformations and one system without glycans. Using Brownian dynamics simulations, we observe a two- to eightfold decrease in the rate of ligand binding to the primary binding site of neuraminidase due to the presence of glycans. These glycans are capable of covering much of the surface area of neuraminidase, and the ligand binding inhibition is derived from glycans sterically occluding the primary binding site on a neighboring monomer. Our work also indicates that drugs preferentially bind to the primary binding site (i.e., the active site) over the secondary binding site, and we propose a binding mechanism illustrating this. These results help illuminate the complex interplay between glycans and ligand binding on the influenza membrane protein neuraminidase.
This work describes an example of using Brownian dynamics in kinetic calculations.