nAPOLI: a graph-based strategy to detect and visualize conserved protein-ligand interactions in large-scale
Essential roles in biological systems depend on protein-ligand recognition, which is mostly driven by specific non-covalent interactions. Consequently, investigating these interactions contributes to understanding how molecular recognition occurs. Nowadays, a large-scale data set of protein-ligand complexes is available in the Protein Data Bank, what led several tools to be proposed as an effort to elucidate protein-ligand interactions. Nonetheless, there is not an all-in-one tool that couples large-scale statistical, visual, and interactive analysis of conserved protein-ligand interactions. Therefore, we propose nAPOLI (Analysis of PrOtein-Ligand Interactions), a web server that combines large-scale analysis of conserved interactions in protein-ligand complexes at the atomic-level, interactive visual representations, and comprehensive reports of the interacting residues/atoms to detect and explore conserved non-covalent interactions. We demonstrate the potential of nAPOLI in detecting important conserved interacting residues through four case studies: two involving a human cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2), one related to ricin, and other to the human nuclear receptor subfamily 3 (hNR3). nAPOLI proved to be suitable to identify conserved interactions according to literature, as well as highlight additional interactions. Finally, we illustrate, with a virtual screening ligand selection, how nAPOLI can be widely applied in structural biology and drug design.