Computational and experimental studies of the interaction between phospho-peptides and the C-terminal domain of BRCA1

Victor M. Anisimov, Arturas Ziemys, Smitha Kizhake, Ziyan Yuan, Amarnath Natarajan, Claudio N. Cavasotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The C-terminal domain of BRCA1(BRCT) is involved in the DNA repair pathway by recognizing the pSXXF motif in interacting proteins. It has been reported that short peptides containing this motif bind to BRCA1(BRCT) in the micromolar range with high specificity. In this work, the binding of pSXXF peptides has been studied computationally and experimentally in order to characterize their interaction with BRCA1(BRCT). Elucidation of the contacts that drive the protein-ligand interaction is critical for the development of high affinity small-molecule BRCA1 inhibitors. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations revealed the key role of threonine at the peptide P+2 position in providing structural rigidity to the ligand in the bound state. The mutation at P+1 had minor effects. Peptide extension at the N-terminal position with the naphthyl amino acid exhibited a modest increase in binding affinity, what could be explained by the dispersion interaction of the naphthyl side-chain with a hydrophobic patch. Three in silico end-point methods were considered for the calculation of binding free energy. The Molecular Mechanics Poisson-Boltzmann Surface Area and the Solvated Interaction Energy methods gave reasonable agreement with experimental data, exhibiting a Pearlman predictive index of 0.71 and 0.78, respectively. The MM-quantum mechanics-surface area method yielded improved results, which was characterized by a Pearlman index of 0.78. The correlation coefficients were 0.59, 0.61 and 0.69, respectively. The ability to apply a QM level of theory within an end-point binding free energy protocol may provide a way for a consistent improvement of accuracy in computer-aided drug design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1071-1084
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • BRCA1
  • End-point binding free energy methods
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Semiempirical Hamiltonian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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