Hydration Structure and Dynamics of Inhibitor-Bound HIV-1 Protease

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology; Schiffer Lab

Publication Date


Document Type



Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Biochemistry | Chemical Actions and Uses | Chemistry | Enzymes and Coenzymes | Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutics | Medicinal-Pharmaceutical Chemistry | Molecular Biology | Structural Biology


Water is essential in many biological processes, and the hydration structure plays a critical role in facilitating protein folding, dynamics, and ligand binding. A variety of biophysical spectroscopic techniques have been used to probe the water solvating proteins, often complemented with molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to resolve the spatial and dynamic features of the hydration shell, but comparing relative water structure is challenging. In this study 1 mus MD simulations were performed to identify and characterize hydration sites around HIV-1 protease bound to an inhibitor, darunavir (DRV). The water density, hydration site occupancy, extent and anisotropy of fluctuations, coordinated water molecules, and hydrogen bonds were characterized and compared to the properties of bulk water. The water density of the principal hydration shell was found to be higher than bulk, dependent on the topology and physiochemical identity of the biomolecular surface. The dynamics of water molecules occupying principal hydration sites was highly dependent on the number of water-water interactions and inversely correlated with hydrogen bonds to the protein-inhibitor complex. While many waters were conserved following the symmetry of homodimeric HIV protease, the asymmetry induced by DRV resulted in asymmetric lower-occupancy hydration sites at the concave surface of the active site. Key interactions between water molecules and the protease, that stabilize the protein in the inhibited form, were altered in a drug resistant variant of the protease indicating that modulation of solvent-solute interactions might play a key role in conveying drug resistance. Our analysis provides insights into the interplay between an enzyme inhibitor complex and the hydration shell and has implications in elucidating water structure in a variety of biological processes and applications including ligand binding, inhibitor design, and resistance.

DOI of Published Version



J Chem Theory Comput. 2018 May 8;14(5):2784-2796. doi: 10.1021/acs.jctc.8b00097. Epub 2018 Apr 18. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of chemical theory and computation

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID