Molecular dynamics studies of a DNA-binding protein: 2. An evaluation of implicit and explicit solvent models for the molecular dynamics simulation of the Escherichia coli trp repressor

Authors

  • Jeanmarie Guenot,

    1. Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143
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  • Peter A. Kollman

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143
    • Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143
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Abstract

Although aqueous simulations with periodic boundary conditions more accurately describe protein dynamics than in vacuo simulations, these are computationally intensive for most proteins. Trp repressor dynamic simulations with a small water shell surrounding the starting model yield protein trajectories that are markedly improved over gas phase, yet computationally efficient. Explicit water in molecular dynamics simulations maintains surface exposure of protein hydrophilic atoms and burial of hydrophobic atoms by opposing the otherwise asymmetric protein-protein forces. This properly orients protein surface side chains, reduces protein fluctuations, and lowers the overall root mean square deviation from the crystal structure. For simulations with crystallographic waters only, a linear or sigmoidal distance-dependent dielectric yields a much better trajectory than does a constant dielectric model. As more water is added to the starting model, the differences between using distance-dependent and constant dielectric models becomes smaller, although the linear distance-dependent dielectric yields an average structure closer to the crystal structure than does a constant dielectric model. Multiplicative constants greater than one, for the linear distance-dependent dielectric simulations, produced trajectories that are progressively worse in describing trp repressor dynamics. Simulations of bovine pancreatic trypsin were used to ensure that the trp repressor results were not protein dependent and to explore the effect of the nonbonded cutoff on the distance-dependent and constant dielectric simulation models. The nonbonded cutoff markedly affected the constant but not distance-dependent dielectric bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor simulations. As with trp repressor, the distance-dependent dielectric model with a shell of water surrounding the protein produced a trajectory in better agreement with the crystal structure than a constant dielectric model, and the physical properties of the trajectory average structure, both with and without a nonbonded cutoff, were comparable.

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