Protein structure can be flexible to adopt multiple conformations to house small molecules. In this paper, we have attempted to experimentally figure out how the structure of a transport protein steer the drug–drug competition (DDC) by maintaining the equilibrium distribution of the bound and unbound fractions of drugs. This understanding is an important facet in biophysical and medicinal chemistry to ascertain the effectiveness of drugs. It is important to note that majority of studies involving small-molecule–transport protein interaction aimed at characterizing the binding process, and because these proteins can interact with thousands of molecules, there are hundreds of reports on such interactions. This ultimately led to an impression among the readers that any studies involving serum albumin may not lead to any new findings except for traditional binding explorations. However, in the present paper, we would like to draw the attention of the readers that our findings are very surprising, new, and important, involving the phenomenon of ligand–protein interaction. Here, we have studied two structurally similar drugs methotrexate (MTX) and folic acid (FA), which attempt to bind the primary binding site (subdomain IIA), one at a time, of human serum albumin. Details of binding analyses reveal that when both of the drugs are present, the single-site binding mode of FA prefers to occupy the primary binding site and hence pushes the primary-site-bound MTX to another location (subdomain IIIA), which is the second binding site of MTX. The structural analysis indicates that DDC has occurred in a cooperative fashion so that the loss of the protein secondary structure is minimum when both drugs are bound to the protein, which means that in the case of duo-drug binding, the conventional interaction between the drug and the protein is altered to undergo restoration of the protein structure. This can indeed regulate the DDC by modifying the bound and unbound fractions of MTX in plasma. The present study emphasizes that in vitro structural characterizations of the transport protein provide important information to improve the molecular-level understanding of DDC for further therapeutic applications with combination drug.
Title: Simultaneous Binding of Folic Acid and Methotrexate to Human Serum Albumin: Insights into the Structural Changes of Protein and the Location and Competitive Displacement of Drugs
Journal: ACS Omega 2018, 3, 1, 246–253