Flexible docking allowing induced fit in proteins: Insights from an open to closed conformational isomers

Bilha Sandak, Haim J. Wolfson, Ruth Nussinov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Here we dock a ligand onto a receptor surface allowing hinge-bending domain/substructural movements. Our approach mimics and manifests induced fit in molecular recognition. All angular rotations are allowed on the one hand, while a conformational space search is avoided on the other. Rather than dock each of the molecular parts separately with subsequent reconstruction of the consistently docked molecules, all parts are docked simultaneously while still utilizing the position of the hinge from the start. Like pliers closing on a screw, the receptor automatically closes on its ligand in the best surface-matching way. Movements are allowed either in the ligand or in the larger receptor, hence reproducing induced molecular fit. Hinge bending movements are frequently observed when molecules associate. There are numerous examples of open versus closed conformations taking place upon binding. Such movements are observed when the substrate binds to its respective enzyme. In particular, such movements are of interest in allosteric enzymes. The movements can involve entire domains, subdomains, loops, (other) secondary structure elements, or between any groups of atoms connected by flexible joints. We have implemented the hinges at points and at bonds. By allowing 3-dimensional (3-D) rotation at the hinge, several rotations about (consecutive or nearby) bonds are implicitly taken into account. Alternatively, if required, the point rotation can be restricted to bond rotation. Here we illustrate this hinge-bending docking approach and the insight into flexibility it provides on a complex of the calmodulin with its M13 ligand, positioning the hinges either in the ligand or in the larger receptor. This automated and efficient method is adapted from computer vision and robotics. It enables utilizing entire molecular surfaces rather than focusing a priori on active sites. Hence, allows attaining the overall optimally matching surfaces, the extent and type of motions which are involved. Here we do not treat the conformational flexibility of side-chains or of very small pieces of the molecules. Therefore, currently available methods addressing these issues and the method presented here, are complementary to each other, expanding the repertoire of computational docking tools foreseen to aid in studies of recognition, conformational flexibility and drug design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-174
Number of pages16
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 1998


  • Flexible docking
  • Induced fit
  • Molecular recognition
  • Protein-ligand interaction
  • Structure-based drug design


Dive into the research topics of 'Flexible docking allowing induced fit in proteins: Insights from an open to closed conformational isomers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this