Large-scale analysis of water stability in bromodomain binding pockets with grand canonical Monte Carlo.
Aldeghi M., Ross GA., Bodkin MJ., Essex JW., Knapp S., Biggin PC.
Conserved water molecules are of interest in drug design, as displacement of such waters can lead to higher affinity ligands and in some cases, contribute towards selectivity. Bromodomains, small protein domains involved in the epigenetic regulation of gene transcription, display a network of four conserved water molecules in their binding pockets and have recently been the focus of intense medicinal chemistry efforts. Understanding why certain bromodomains have displaceable water molecules and others do not is extremely challenging, and it remains unclear which water molecules in a given bromodomain can be targeted for displacement. Here we estimate the stability of the conserved water molecules in 35 bromodomains via binding free energy calculations using all-atom grand canonical Monte Carlo simulations. Encouraging quantitative agreement to the available experimental evidence is found. We thus discuss the expected ease of water displacement in different bromodomains and the implications for ligand selectivity.