The zoonotic disease brucellosis, a chronic condition in humans affecting renal and cardiac systems and causing osteoarthritis, is caused by Brucella, a genus of Gram-negative, facultative, intracellular pathogens. The mode of transmission and the virulence of the pathogens are still enigmatic. Transcription regulatory elements, such as rho proteins, play an important role in the termination of transcription and/or the selection of genes in Brucella. Adverse effects of the transcription inhibitors play a key role in the non-successive transcription challenges faced by the pathogens. In the investigation presented here, we computationally predicted the transcription termination factor rho (TtFRho) inhibitors against Brucella melitensis 16M via a structure-based method. In view the unknown nature of its crystal structure, we constructed a robust three-dimensional homology model of TtFRho’s structure by comparative modeling with the crystal structure of the Escherichia coli TtFRho (Protein Data Bank ID: 1PVO) as a template in MODELLER (v 9.10). The modeled structure was optimized by applying a molecular dynamics simulation for 2 ns with the CHARMM (Chemistry at HARvard Macromolecular Mechanics) 27 force field in NAMD (NAnoscale Molecular Dynamics program; v 2.9) and then evaluated by calculating the stereochemical quality of the protein. The flexible docking for the interaction phenomenon of the template consists of ligand-related inhibitor molecules from the ZINC (ZINC Is Not Commercial) database using a structure-based virtual screening strategy against minimized TtFRho. Docking simulations revealed two inhibitors compounds – ZINC24934545 and ZINC72319544 – that showed high binding affinity among 2,829 drug analogs that bind with key active-site residues; these residues are considered for protein-ligand binding and unbinding pathways via steered molecular dynamics simulations. Arg215 in the model plays an important role in the stability of the protein-ligand complex via a hydrogen bonding interaction by aromatic-π contacts, and the ADMET (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) analysis of best leads indicate nontoxic in nature with good potential for drug development.
Pradeepkiran, J. A., Kumar, K. K., Kumar, Y. N., & Bhaskar, M. (2015). Modeling, molecular dynamics, and docking assessment of transcription factor rho: A potential drug target in brucella melitensis 16M. Drug Design, Development and Therapy, 9, 1897–1912. https://doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S77020