• molecular simulations;
  • polarizable protein force field;
  • charge equilibration;
  • molecular dynamics


A fluctuating charge (FQ) force field is applied to molecular dynamics simulations for six small proteins in explicit polarizable solvent represented by the TIP4P-FQ potential. The proteins include 1FSV, 1ENH, 1PGB, 1VII, 1H8K, and 1CRN, representing both helical and β-sheet secondary structural elements. Constant pressure and temperature (NPT) molecular dynamics simulations are performed on time scales of several nanoseconds, the longest simulations yet reported using explicitly polarizable all-atom empirical potentials (for both solvent and protein) in the condensed phase. In terms of structure, the FQ force field allows deviations from native structure up to 2.5 Å (with a range of 1.0 to 2.5 Å). This is commensurate to the performance of the CHARMM22 nonpolarizable model and other currently existing polarizable models. Importantly, secondary structural elements maintain native structure in general to within 1 Å (both helix and β-strands), again in good agreement with the nonpolarizable case. In qualitative agreement with QM/MM ab initio dynamics on crambin (Liu et al. Proteins 2001, 44, 484), there is a sequence dependence of average condensed phase atomic charge for all proteins, a dependence one would anticipate considering the differing chemical environments around individual atoms; this is a subtle quantum mechanical feature captured in the FQ model but absent in current state-of-the-art nonpolarizable models. Furthermore, there is a mutual polarization of solvent and protein in the condensed phase. Solvent dipole moment distributions within the first and second solvation shells around the protein display a shift towards higher dipole moments (increases on the order of 0.2–0.3 Debye) relative to the bulk; protein polarization is manifested via the enhanced condensed phase charges of typical polar atoms such as backbone carbonyl oxygens, amide nitrogens, and amide hydrogens. Finally, to enlarge the sample set of proteins, gas-phase minimizations and 1 ps constant temperature simulations are performed on various-sized proteins to compare to earlier work by Kaminsky et al. (J Comp Chem 2002, 23, 1515). The present work establishes the feasibility of applying a fully polarizable force field for protein simulations and demonstrates the approach employed in extending the CHARMM force field to include these effects. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Comput Chem 25: 1504–1514, 2004