Improving macromolecular electrostatics calculations

Protein Eng. 1999 Aug;12(8):657-62. doi: 10.1093/protein/12.8.657.


Electrostatic interactions play a key role in many aspects of protein engineering. Consequently, much effort has been put into the design of software for calculating electrostatic fields around macromolecules. We show that optimization of hydrogen bonding networks can improve both the results of pK(a) calculations and the results of electrostatic calculations performed by commonly used programs such as DelPhi. Further optimization can often be achieved by flipping the side chains of asparagine, histidine and glutamine around their chi2, chi2 and chi3 torsion angles, respectively, when this improves the local hydrogen bonding network. These optimizations are applied to some well characterized proteins: BPTI, hen egg white lysozyme and superoxide dismutase. A search for flipped residues in the PDB revealed that significant improvements in electrostatic calculations in or near the active site of enzymes can be expected for about one quarter of all enzymes in the PDB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Engineering
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Software*
  • Static Electricity


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Proteins
  • Hydrogen