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Keywords:

  • molecular dynamics;
  • protein–drug interactions;
  • computer-aided drug discovery;
  • enoyl-acyl carrier protein reductase

Abstract

Enoyl-acyl carrier protein reductase (ENR) is a crucial enzyme in the type II fatty acid synthesis pathway of many pathogens such as Plasmodium falciparum, the etiological agent of the most severe form of malaria. Because of its essential function of fatty acid double bond reduction and the absence of a human homologue, PfENR is an interesting drug target. Although extensive knowledge of the protein structure has been gathered over the last decade, comparatively little remains known about the dynamics of this crucial enzyme. Here, we perform extensive molecular dynamics simulations of tetrameric PfENR in different states of cofactor and ligand binding, and with a variety of different ligands bound. A pocket-volume analysis is also performed, and virtual screening is used to identify potential druggable hotspots. The implications of the results for future drug-discovery projects are discussed.