Indexed on: 19 Dec '09Published on: 19 Dec '09Published in: Journal of Computational Chemistry
Imatinib is an important anticancer drug, which binds specifically to the Abl kinase and blocks its signalling activity. To model imatinib:protein interactions, we have developed a molecular mechanics force field for imatinib and four close analogues, which is consistent with the CHARMM force field for proteins and nucleic acids. Atomic charges and Lennard-Jones parameters were derived from a supermolecule ab initio approach. We considered the ab initio energies and geometries of a probe water molecule interacting with imatinib fragments at 32 different positions. We considered both a neutral and a protonated imatinib. The final RMS deviation between the ab initio and force field energies, averaged over both forms, was 0.2 kcal/mol. The model also reproduces the ab initio geometry and flexibility of imatinib. To apply the force field to imatinib:Abl simulations, it is also necessary to determine the most likely imatinib protonation state when it binds to Abl. This was done using molecular dynamics free energy simulations, where imatinib is reversibly protonated during a series of MD simulations, both in solution and in complex with Abl. The simulations indicate that imatinib binds to Abl in its protonated, positively-charged form. To help test the force field and the protonation prediction, we did MD free energy simulations that compare the Abl binding affinities of two imatinib analogs, obtaining good agreement with experiment. Finally, two new imatinib variants were considered, one of which is predicted to have improved Abl binding. This variant could be of interest as a potential drug.