Computational analysis of protein-ligand interactions is of pivotal importance for drug design. Assessment of ligand binding energy allows us to have a glimpse of the potential of a small organic molecule as a ligand to the binding site of a protein target. Considering scoring functions available in docking programs such as AutoDock4, AutoDock Vina, and Molegro Virtual Docker, we could say that they all rely on equations that sum each type of protein-ligand interactions to model the binding affinity. Most of the scoring functions consider electrostatic interactions involving the protein and the ligand. In this chapter, we present the main physics concepts necessary to understand electrostatics interactions relevant to molecular recognition of a ligand by the binding pocket of a protein target. Moreover, we analyze the electrostatic potential energy for an ensemble of structures to highlight the main features related to the importance of this interaction for binding affinity.
Electrostatic Energy in Protein-Ligand Complexes
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