Protein-protein docking with large-scale backbone flexibility using coarse-grained Monte-Carlo simulations

International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(14), 7341, 2021

Authors: Kurciński Mateusz, Kmiecik Sebastian, Zalewski Mateusz, Kolinski Andrzej


Most of the protein–protein docking methods treat proteins as almost rigid objects. Only the side-chains flexibility is usually taken into account. The few approaches enabling docking with a flexible backbone typically work in two steps, in which the search for protein–protein orientations and structure flexibility are simulated separately. In this work, we propose a new straightforward approach for docking sampling. It consists of a single simulation step during which a protein undergoes large-scale backbone rearrangements, rotations, and translations. Simultaneously, the other protein exhibits small backbone fluctuations. Such extensive sampling was possible using the CABS coarse-grained protein model and Replica Exchange Monte Carlo dynamics at a reasonable computational cost. In our proof-of-concept simulations of 62 protein–protein complexes, we obtained acceptable quality models for a significant number of cases.