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      The MM/PBSA and MM/GBSA methods to estimate ligand-binding affinities


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          Introduction: The molecular mechanics energies combined with the Poisson–Boltzmann or generalized Born and surface area continuum solvation (MM/PBSA and MM/GBSA) methods are popular approaches to estimate the free energy of the binding of small ligands to biological macromolecules. They are typically based on molecular dynamics simulations of the receptor–ligand complex and are therefore intermediate in both accuracy and computational effort between empirical scoring and strict alchemical perturbation methods. They have been applied to a large number of systems with varying success.

          Areas covered: The authors review the use of MM/PBSA and MM/GBSA methods to calculate ligand-binding affinities, with an emphasis on calibration, testing and validation, as well as attempts to improve the methods, rather than on specific applications.

          Expert opinion: MM/PBSA and MM/GBSA are attractive approaches owing to their modular nature and that they do not require calculations on a training set. They have been used successfully to reproduce and rationalize experimental findings and to improve the results of virtual screening and docking. However, they contain several crude and questionable approximations, for example, the lack of conformational entropy and information about the number and free energy of water molecules in the binding site. Moreover, there are many variants of the method and their performance varies strongly with the tested system. Likewise, most attempts to ameliorate the methods with more accurate approaches, for example, quantum-mechanical calculations, polarizable force fields or improved solvation have deteriorated the results.

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          MMPBSA.py: An Efficient Program for End-State Free Energy Calculations.

          MM-PBSA is a post-processing end-state method to calculate free energies of molecules in solution. MMPBSA.py is a program written in Python for streamlining end-state free energy calculations using ensembles derived from molecular dynamics (MD) or Monte Carlo (MC) simulations. Several implicit solvation models are available with MMPBSA.py, including the Poisson-Boltzmann Model, the Generalized Born Model, and the Reference Interaction Site Model. Vibrational frequencies may be calculated using normal mode or quasi-harmonic analysis to approximate the solute entropy. Specific interactions can also be dissected using free energy decomposition or alanine scanning. A parallel implementation significantly speeds up the calculation by dividing frames evenly across available processors. MMPBSA.py is an efficient, user-friendly program with the flexibility to accommodate the needs of users performing end-state free energy calculations. The source code can be downloaded at http://ambermd.org/ with AmberTools, released under the GNU General Public License.
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            Assessing the performance of MM/PBSA and MM/GBSA methods. 4. Accuracies of MM/PBSA and MM/GBSA methodologies evaluated by various simulation protocols using PDBbind data set.

            By using different evaluation strategies, we systemically evaluated the performance of Molecular Mechanics/Generalized Born Surface Area (MM/GBSA) and Molecular Mechanics/Poisson-Boltzmann Surface Area (MM/PBSA) methodologies based on more than 1800 protein-ligand crystal structures in the PDBbind database. The results can be summarized as follows: (1) for the one-protein-family/one-binding-ligand case which represents the unbiased protein-ligand complex sampling, both MM/GBSA and MM/PBSA methodologies achieve approximately equal accuracies at the interior dielectric constant of 4 (with rp = 0.408 ± 0.006 of MM/GBSA and rp = 0.388 ± 0.006 of MM/PBSA based on the minimized structures); while for the total dataset (1864 crystal structures), the overall best Pearson correlation coefficient (rp = 0.579 ± 0.002) based on MM/GBSA is better than that of MM/PBSA (rp = 0.491 ± 0.003), indicating that biased sampling may significantly affect the accuracy of the predicted result (some protein families contain too many instances and can bias the overall predicted accuracy). Therefore, family based classification is needed to evaluate the two methodologies; (2) the prediction accuracies of MM/GBSA and MM/PBSA for different protein families are quite different with rp ranging from 0 to 0.9, whereas the correlation and ranking scores (an averaged rp/rs over a list of protein folds and also representing the unbiased sampling) given by MM/PBSA (rp-score = 0.506 ± 0.050 and rs-score = 0.481 ± 0.052) are comparable to those given by MM/GBSA (rp-score = 0.516 ± 0.047 and rs-score = 0.463 ± 0.047) at the fold family level; (3) for the overall prediction accuracies, molecular dynamics (MD) simulation may not be quite necessary for MM/GBSA (rp-minimized = 0.579 ± 0.002 and rp-1ns = 0.564 ± 0.002), but is needed for MM/PBSA (rp-minimized = 0.412 ± 0.003 and rp-1ns = 0.491 ± 0.003). However, for the individual systems, whether to use MD simulation is depended. (4) both MM/GBSA and MM/PBSA may be unable to give successful predictions for the ligands with high formal charges, with the Pearson correlation coefficient ranging from 0.621 ± 0.003 (neutral ligands) to 0.125 ± 0.142 (ligands with a formal charge of 5). Therefore, it can be summarized that, although MM/GBSA and MM/PBSA perform similarly in the unbiased dataset, for the currently available crystal structures in the PDBbind database, compared with MM/GBSA, which may be used in multi-target comparisons, MM/PBSA is more sensitive to the investigated systems, and may be more suitable for individual-target-level binding free energy ranking. This study may provide useful guidance for the post-processing of docking based studies.
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              Assessing the performance of the molecular mechanics/Poisson Boltzmann surface area and molecular mechanics/generalized Born surface area methods. II. The accuracy of ranking poses generated from docking.

              In molecular docking, it is challenging to develop a scoring function that is accurate to conduct high-throughput screenings. Most scoring functions implemented in popular docking software packages were developed with many approximations for computational efficiency, which sacrifices the accuracy of prediction. With advanced technology and powerful computational hardware nowadays, it is feasible to use rigorous scoring functions, such as molecular mechanics/Poisson Boltzmann surface area (MM/PBSA) and molecular mechanics/generalized Born surface area (MM/GBSA) in molecular docking studies. Here, we systematically investigated the performance of MM/PBSA and MM/GBSA to identify the correct binding conformations and predict the binding free energies for 98 protein-ligand complexes. Comparison studies showed that MM/GBSA (69.4%) outperformed MM/PBSA (45.5%) and many popular scoring functions to identify the correct binding conformations. Moreover, we found that molecular dynamics simulations are necessary for some systems to identify the correct binding conformations. Based on our results, we proposed the guideline for MM/GBSA to predict the binding conformations. We then tested the performance of MM/GBSA and MM/PBSA to reproduce the binding free energies of the 98 protein-ligand complexes. The best prediction of MM/GBSA model with internal dielectric constant 2.0, produced a Spearman's correlation coefficient of 0.66, which is better than MM/PBSA (0.49) and almost all scoring functions used in molecular docking. In summary, MM/GBSA performs well for both binding pose predictions and binding free-energy estimations and is efficient to re-score the top-hit poses produced by other less-accurate scoring functions. Copyright © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

                Author and article information

                Expert Opin Drug Discov
                Expert Opin Drug Discov
                Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery
                Informa Healthcare
                4 May 2015
                3 April 2015
                : 10
                : 5
                : 449-461
                [ a ] 1University of Southampton, School of Chemistry , Highfield, SO17 1BJ, Southampton, UK
                [ b ] 2Lund University, Chemical Centre, Department of Theoretical Chemistry , P. O. Box 124, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden+46 46 2224502; +46 46 2228648; Ulf.Ryde@ 123456teokem.lu.se
                Author notes
                Author for correspondence
                © Informa UK, Ltd.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 License which permits users to download and share the article for non-commercial purposes, so long as the article is reproduced in the whole without changes, and provided the original source is credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 106, Pages: 13

                drug design,electrostatics,entropy,free energy perturbation,linear interaction energy,non-polar solvation,solvation


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