In this era of precision medicine, insights into the resistance mechanism of drugs are integral for the development of potent therapeutics. Here, we sought to understand the contribution of four point mutations (N51I, C59R, S108N, and I164L) within the active site of the malaria parasite enzyme dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) towards the resistance of the antimalarial drug pyrimethamine. Homology modeling was used to obtain full-length models of wild type (WT) and mutant DHFR. Molecular docking was employed to dock pyrimethamine onto the generated structures. Subsequent all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and binding free-energy computations highlighted that pyrimethamine’s stability and affinity inversely relates to the number of mutations within its binding site and, hence, resistance severity. Generally, mutations led to reduced binding affinity to pyrimethamine and increased conformational plasticity of DHFR. Next, dynamic residue network analysis (DRN) was applied to determine the impact of mutations and pyrimethamine binding on communication dispositions of DHFR residues. DRN revealed residues with distinctive communication profiles, distinguishing WT from drug-resistant mutants as well as pyrimethamine-bound from pyrimethamine-free models. Our results provide a new perspective on the understanding of mutation-induced drug resistance.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited