The main aim of this work was to find parameters for the zinc ion in human dipeptidyl peptidase III (DPP III) active site that would enable its reliable modeling. Since the parameters publicly available failed to reproduce the zinc ion coordination in the enzyme, we developed a new set of the hybrid bonded/nonbonded parameters for the zinc ion suitable for molecular modeling of the human DPP III, dynamics, and ligand binding. The parameters allowed exchange of the water molecules coordinating the zinc ion and proved to be robust enough to enable reliable modeling not only of human DPP III and its orthologues but also of the other zinc-dependent peptidases with the zinc ion coordination similar to that in dipeptidyl peptidases III, i.e., peptidases with the zinc ion coordinated with two histidines and one glutamate. The new parameters were tested on a set of 21 different systems comprising 8 different peptidases, 5 DPP III orthologues, thermolysin, neprilysin, and aminopeptidase N, and the results are summarized in the second part of the article.
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