The scoring of poses in protein-protein docking: current capabilities and future directions
Here, we present FireDock, an efficient method for the refinement and rescoring of rigid-body docking solutions. The refinement process consists of two main steps: (1) rearrangement of the interface side-chains and (2) adjustment of the relative orientation of the molecules. Our method accounts for the observation that most interface residues that are important in recognition and binding do not change their conformation significantly upon complexation. Allowing full side-chain flexibility, a common procedure in refinement methods, often causes excessive conformational changes. These changes may distort preformed structural signatures, which have been shown to be important for binding recognition. Here, we restrict side-chain movements, and thus manage to reduce the false-positive rate noticeably. In the later stages of our procedure (orientation adjustments and scoring), we smooth the atomic radii. This allows for the minor backbone and side-chain movements and increases the sensitivity of our algorithm. FireDock succeeds in ranking a near-native structure within the top 15 predictions for 83% of the 30 enzyme-inhibitor test cases, and for 78% of the 18 semiunbound antibody-antigen complexes. Our refinement procedure significantly improves the ranking of the rigid-body PatchDock algorithm for these cases. The FireDock program is fully automated. In particular, to our knowledge, FireDock's prediction results are comparable to current state-of-the-art refinement methods while its running time is significantly lower. The method is available at http://bioinfo3d.cs.tau.ac.il/FireDock/.