Docking studies on DNA intercalator

Y Baime, H Senderowitz

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


DNA is an important target for the treatment of multiple pathologies, most notably cancer. In particular, DNA intercalators have often been used as anticancer drugs. However, despite their relevance to drug discovery, only a few systematic computational studies were performed on DNA-intercalator complexes. In this work we have analyzed ligand binding sites preferences in 63 high resolution DNA-intercalator complexes available in the PDB and found that ligands bind preferentially between G and C and between the C and A base pairs (70% and 11%, respectively). Next, we examined the ability of AUTODOCK to accurately dock ligands into preformed intercalation sites. Following the optimization of the docking protocol, AUTODOCK was able to generate conformations with RMSD values <2.00 Å with respect to crystal structures in ∼80% of the cases while focusing on the preformed binding site (small grid box) or on the entire DNA structure (large grid box). In addition, a top ranked conformation with an RMSD < 2.00 Å was identified in 75% and 60% of the cases using small and large docking boxes, respectively. Moreover, under the large docking box setting AUTODOCK was able to successfully distinguish between the intercalation site and the minor groove site. However, in all cases the crystal structures and poses tightly clustered around it had a lower score than the best scoring poses suggesting a potential scoring problem with AUTODOCK. A close examination of all cases where the top ranked pose had an RMSD value >2.00 Å suggests that AUTODOCK may overemphasize the hydrogen bonding term. A decision tree was built to identify ligands which are likely to be accurately docked based on their characteristics. This analysis revealed that AUTODOCK performs best for intercalators characterized by a large number of aromatic rings, low flexibility, high molecular weight, and a small number of hydrogen bond acceptors. Finally, for canonical B-DNA structures (where preformed sites are unavailable), we demonstrated that intercalation sites could be formed by inserting an anthracene moiety between the (anticipated) site-flanking base pairs and by relaxing the structure using either energy minimization or preferably molecular dynamics simulations. Such sites were suitable for the docking of different intercalators by AUTODOCK.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2012
Event77th Meeting of the Israel Chemical Society - Tel-Aviv, Israel
Duration: 7 Feb 20128 Feb 2012


Conference77th Meeting of the Israel Chemical Society


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