As software and methodology develop, key aspects of molecular interactions such as detailed energetics and flexibility are continuously better represented in docking simulations. In the latest iteration of the XPairIt API and Docking Protocol, we perform a blind dock of a custom peptide synthesis into the cleavage site of the Anthrax lethal factor (LF) metalloprotein. Molecular structures are prepared from RCSB:1JKY and we demonstrate a reasonably accurate custom peptide synthesis through analysis of protein motion and, using NCI Plot, visualize and characterize the forces leading to binding. We compare our docked structure to the 1JKY crystal structure and the more recent 1PWV structure, and discuss both captured and overlooked interactions. Our results offer a more detailed look at secondary contact and show that both van der Waals and electrostatic interactions from peptide residues further from the enzyme's catalytic site are significant.
The mechanics of peptide–protein docking has long been an area of intense interest to the computational community. Here we discuss an improved docking protocol named XPairIt which uses a multitier approach, combining the PyRosetta docking software with the NAMD molecular dynamics package through a biomolecular simulation programming interface written in Python. This protocol is designed for systems where no a priori information of ligand structure (beyond sequence) or binding location is known. It provides for efficient incorporation of both ligand and target flexibility, is HPC-ready and is easily extensible for use of custom code. We apply this protocol to a set of 11 test cases drawn from benchmarking databases and from previously published studies for direct comparison with existing protocols. Strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement are discussed.