Binding of BRACO19 to a telomeric G-quadruplex DNA probed by all-atom molecular dynamics simulations with explicit solvent

Babitha Machireddy, Holli Joi Sullivan, Chun Wu

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41 Scopus citations


Although BRACO19 is a potent G-quadruplex binder, its potential for clinical usage is hindered by its low selectivity towards DNA G-quadruplex over duplex. High-resolution structures of BRACO19 in complex with neither single-stranded telomeric DNA G-quadruplexes nor B-DNA duplex are available. In this study, the binding pathway of BRACO19 was probed by 27.5 µs molecular dynamics binding simulations with a free ligand (BRACO19) to a DNA duplex and three different topological folds of the human telomeric DNA G-quadruplex (parallel, anti-parallel and hybrid). The most stable binding modes were identified as end stacking and groove binding for the DNA G-quadruplexes and duplex, respectively. Among the three G-quadruplex topologies, the MM-GBSA binding energy analysis suggested that BRACO190s binding to the parallel scaffold was most energetically favorable. The two lines of conflicting evidence plus our binding energy data suggest conformation-selection mechanism: the relative population shift of three scaffolds upon BRACO19 binding (i.e., an increase of population of parallel scaffold, a decrease of populations of antiparallel and/or hybrid scaffold). This hypothesis appears to be consistent with the fact that BRACO19 was specifically designed based on the structural requirements of the parallel scaffold and has since proven effective against a variety of cancer cell lines as well as toward a number of scaffolds. In addition, this binding mode is only slightly more favorable than BRACO19s binding to the duplex, explaining the low binding selectivity of BRACO19 to G-quadruplexes over duplex DNA. Our detailed analysis suggests that BRACO190s groove binding mode may not be stable enough to maintain a prolonged binding event and that the groove binding mode may function as an intermediate state preceding a more energetically favorable end stacking pose; base flipping played an important role in enhancing binding interactions, an integral feature of an induced fit binding mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1010
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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