Non-nucleoside inhibitors of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (NNRTIs), which bind to an allosteric site 10-15 Å from the polymerase active site, play a central role in anti-HIV chemotherapy. Though NNRTIs have been known for 30 years, the pathways by which they bind and unbind from HIV-RT have not been characterized. In crystal structures for complexes, three channels are found to extend from the NNRTI binding site to the exterior of the protein, while added mystery comes from the fact that the binding site is collapsed in the unliganded protein. To address this issue, metadynamics simulations have been performed to elucidate the unbinding of four NNRTIs from HIV-RT. A general and transferable collective variable defined by the distance between the center-of-mass (COM) of the binding pocket and COM of the ligand is used to follow the dynamics while minimizing the bias. The metadynamics also allows computation of the barriers to unbinding, which are compared with the observed potencies of the compounds in an antiviral assay.
This work describes an example of using Metadynamics in kinetic calculations.