Prediction of Peptide Binding to Major Histocompatibility II Receptors with Molecular Mechanics and Semi-Empirical Quantum Mechanics Methods

Sarah Aldulaijan, James A Platts


Methods for prediction of the binding of peptides to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II receptors are examined, using literature values of IC50 as a benchmark. Two sets of IC50 data for closely structurally related peptides based on hen egg lysozyme (HEL) and myelin basic protein (MBP) are reported first. This shows that methods based on both molecular mechanics and semi-empirical quantum mechanics can predict binding with good-to-reasonable accuracy, as long as a suitable method for estimation of solvation effects is included. A more diverse set of 22 peptides bound to HLA-DR1 provides a tougher test of such methods, especially since no crystal structure is available for these peptide-MHC complexes. We therefore use sequence based methods such as SYFPEITHI and SVMHC to generate possible binding poses, using a consensus approach to determine the most likely anchor residues, which are then mapped onto the crystal structure of an unrelated peptide bound to the same receptor. This analysis shows that the MM/GBVI method performs particularly well, as does the AMBER94 forcefield with Born solvation model. Indeed, MM/GBVI can be used as an alternative to sequence based methods in generating binding poses, leading to still better accuracy.


major histocompatibility complex; molecular mechanics; quantum mechanics; density functional theory


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