Modeling the interaction and energetics of biological molecules with a polarizable force field
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Accurate prediction of protein-ligand binding affinity is essential to computational drug discovery. Current approaches are limited by the accuracy of the underlying potential energy model that describes atomic interactions. A more rigorous physical model is critical for evaluating molecular interactions to chemical accuracy. The objective of this thesis research is to develop a polarizable force field with an accurate representation of electrostatic interactions, and apply this model to protein-ligand recognition and to ultimately solve practical problems in computer aided drug discovery. By calculating the hydration free energies of a series of organic small molecules, an optimal protocol is established to develop the electrostatic parameters from quantum mechanics calculations. Next, the systematical development and parameterization procedure of AMOEBA protein force field is presented. The derived force field has gone through extensive validations in both gas phase and condensed phase. The last part of the thesis involves the application of AMOEBA to study protein-ligand interactions. The binding free energies of benzamidine analogs to trypsin using molecular dynamics alchemical perturbation are calculated with encouraging accuracy. AMOEBA is also used to study the thermodynamic effect of constraining and hydrophobicity on binding energetics between phosphotyrosine(pY)-containing tripeptides and the SH2 domain of growth receptor binding protein 2 (Grb2). The underlying mechanism of an "entropic paradox" associated with ligand preorganization is explored.