Inhibitors to interfere protein-protein interactions (PPI) between programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) and programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) block evasion of cancers from immune surveillance. Analyzing hot spot residues in PPI is important for small-molecule drug development. In order to find out hot spots on PPI interface in PD-1/PD-L1 complex, we analyzed PPI in PD-1/PD-L1 with a new analysis method, 3-dimensional scattered pair interactions energies (3D-SPIEs), which assorts significant interactions with fragment molecular orbital (FMO) method. By additionally analyzing PPI in PD-1/antibody and PD-L1/antibody complexes, and small-ligand interactions in PD-L1/peptide and PD-L1/small-molecule complexes, we narrowed down the hot spot region with 3D-SPIEs-based interaction map, which integrates PPI and small-ligand interactions. Based on the map, there are two hot spot regions in PPI of PD-1/PD-L1 and the first hot spot region is important for inhibitors. In particular, LY56, LE58, and LN66 in the first hot spot of PD-L1 are important for PD-L1-antibodies and small-inhibitors in common, while LM115 is important for small-inhibitors. Therefore, the 3D-SPIEs-based map would provide valuable information for designing new small-molecule inhibitors to inhibit PPI of PD-1/PD-L1 and the FMO/3D-SPIEs method provides an effectual tool to understand PPI and integrate PPI and small-ligand interactions at a quantum mechanical level.
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