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Keywords:

  • mean force;
  • molecular dynamic simulations;
  • bioelectromagnetics;
  • stability of protein conformations;
  • parallel β sheet;
  • antiparallel β sheet

ABSTRACT

To explore the effect of an external electrostatic field (EEF) on the stability of protein conformations, the molecular dynamic modeling approach was applied to evaluate the effect of an EEF along the x or y direction on a water cluster containing a parallel or antiparallel β sheet structure. The β sheet structure contained two strands with a (Gly)3 sequence separated by a distance d along the x direction. The mean forces between the two strands along the x direction were computed from the trajectories of molecular dynamics simulations. In the absence of the EEF, the forces between the two strands in vacuum were repulsive and attractive in the parallel and antiparallel β sheet structures, respectively. In contrast, the mean forces between the two strands in water were attractive in both the parallel and antiparallel β sheet structures. This is because the electric interactions between the two strands were shielded by water, and the hydrophobic effect dominated the interaction between the two strands. When an EEF >50 MV/cm was applied to the water cluster, the attractive force between the two strands in the parallel and antiparallel β sheet structures decreased and increased, respectively. Further, the binding affinity between the two strands in the parallel and antiparallel β sheet structures also decreased and increased, respectively. This is because the large EEF leads to dielectric saturation, and consequently reduces the effects of the dielectric shielding and hydrophobic interactions. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 101: 861–870, 2014.