Ligand-centered assessment of SARS-CoV-2 drug target models in the Protein Data Bank

A. Wlodawer, Z. Dauter, I.G. Shabalin, Mi. Gilski, D. Brzezinski, M. Kowiel, W.Minor, B.Rupp, M. Jaskolski

May 17, 2020

A bright spot in the SARS-CoV-2 (CoV-2) coronavirus pandemic has been the immediate mobilization of the biomedical community, working to develop treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.

Rational drug design against emerging threats depends on well-established methodology, mainly utilizing X-ray crystallography, to provide accurate structure models of the macromolecular drug targets and of their complexes with candidates for drug development. In the current crisis, the structural biological community has responded by presenting structure models of CoV-2 proteins and depositing them in the Protein Data Bank (PDB), usually without time embargo and before publication. Since the structures from the first-line research are produced in an accelerated mode, there is an elevated chance of mistakes and errors, with the ultimate risk of hindering, rather than speeding up, drug development. In the present work, we have used model-validation metrics and examined the electron density maps for the deposited models of CoV-2 proteins and a sample of related proteins available in the PDB as of April 1, 2020. We present these results with the aim of helping the biomedical community establish a better-validated pool of data. The proteins are divided into groups according to their structure and function. In most cases, no major corrections were necessary. However, in several cases significant revisions in the functionally sensitive area of protein–inhibitor complexes or for bound ions justified correction, re-refinement, and eventually reversioning in the PDB. The re-refined coordinate files and a tool for facilitating model comparisons are available at

Ligand-centered assessment of SARS-CoV-2 drug target models in the Protein Data Bank
June 22, 2022