Protein-peptide association kinetics beyond the seconds timescale from atomistic simulations

04 Oct 2017

Understanding and control of structures and rates involved in protein-ligand binding are es- sential for drug design. Unfortunately, atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations cannot di- rectly sample the excessively long residence and rearrangement times of tightly binding complexes. Here we exploit the recently developed multi-ensemble Markov model framework to compute full protein-peptide kinetics of the oncoprotein fragment 25−109Mdm2 and the nano-molar inhibitor peptide PMI. Using this system, we report, for the first time, direct estimates of kinetics beyond the seconds timescales using simulations of an all-atom MD model, with high accuracy and pre- cision. These results only require explicit simulations on the sub-milliseconds timescale and are tested against existing mutagenesis data and our own experimental measurements of the dissoci- ation and association rates. The full kinetic model reveals an overall downhill but rugged binding funnel with multiple pathways. The overall strong binding arises from a variety of conformations with different hydrophobic contact surfaces that interconvert on the milliseconds timescale.