Long Dynamics Simulations of Proteins Using Atomistic Force Fields and a Continuum Representation of Solvent Effects: Calculation of Structural and Dynamic Properties

Proteins. 2005 Aug 15;60(3):464-84. doi: 10.1002/prot.20470.


Long dynamics simulations were carried out on the B1 immunoglobulin-binding domain of streptococcal protein G (ProtG) and bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI) using atomistic descriptions of the proteins and a continuum representation of solvent effects. To mimic frictional and random collision effects, Langevin dynamics (LD) were used. The main goal of the calculations was to explore the stability of tens-of-nanosecond trajectories as generated by this molecular mechanics approximation and to analyze in detail structural and dynamical properties. Conformational fluctuations, order parameters, cross correlation matrices, residue solvent accessibilities, pKa values of titratable groups, and hydrogen-bonding (HB) patterns were calculated from all of the trajectories and compared with available experimental data. The simulations comprised over 40 ns per trajectory for ProtG and over 30 ns per trajectory for BPTI. For comparison, explicit water molecular dynamics simulations (EW/MD) of 3 ns and 4 ns, respectively, were also carried out. Two continuum simulations were performed on each protein using the CHARMM program, one with the all-atom PAR22 representation of the protein force field (here referred to as PAR22/LD simulations) and the other with the modifications introduced by the recently developed CMAP potential (CMAP/LD simulations). The explicit solvent simulations were performed with PAR22 only. Solvent effects are described by a continuum model based on screened Coulomb potentials (SCP) reported earlier, i.e., the SCP-based implicit solvent model (SCP-ISM). For ProtG, both the PAR22/LD and the CMAP/LD 40-ns trajectories were stable, yielding C(alpha) root mean square deviations (RMSD) of about 1.0 and 0.8 A respectively along the entire simulation time, compared to 0.8 A for the EW/MD simulation. For BPTI, only the CMAP/LD trajectory was stable for the entire 30-ns simulation, with a C(alpha) RMSD of approximately 1.4 A, while the PAR22/LD trajectory became unstable early in the simulation, reaching a C(alpha) RMSD of about 2.7 A and remaining at this value until the end of the simulation; the C(alpha) RMSD of the EW/MD simulation was about 1.5 A. The source of the instabilities of the BPTI trajectories in the PAR22/LD simulations was explored by an analysis of the backbone torsion angles. To further validate the findings from this analysis of BPTI, a 35-ns SCP-ISM simulation of Ubiquitin (Ubq) was carried out. For this protein, the CMAP/LD simulation was stable for the entire simulation time (C(alpha) RMSD of approximately 1.0 A), while the PAR22/LD trajectory showed a trend similar to that in BPTI, reaching a C(alpha) RMSD of approximately 1.5 A at 7 ns. All the calculated properties were found to be in agreement with the corresponding experimental values, although local deviations were also observed. HB patterns were also well reproduced by all the continuum solvent simulations with the exception of solvent-exposed side chain-side chain (sc-sc) HB in ProtG, where several of the HB interactions observed in the crystal structure and in the EW/MD simulation were lost. The overall analysis reported in this work suggests that the combination of an atomistic representation of a protein with a CMAP/CHARMM force field and a continuum representation of solvent effects such as the SCP-ISM provides a good description of structural and dynamic properties obtained from long computer simulations. Although the SCP-ISM simulations (CMAP/LD) reported here were shown to be stable and the properties well reproduced, further refinement is needed to attain a level of accuracy suitable for more challenging biological applications, particularly the study of protein-protein interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alanine / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Aprotinin / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Cattle
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Computer Simulation
  • Computers
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Models, Molecular
  • Models, Statistical
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Software
  • Solvents / chemistry*
  • Static Electricity
  • Time Factors
  • Ubiquitin / chemistry


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • IgG Fc-binding protein, Streptococcus
  • Peptides
  • Proteins
  • Solvents
  • Ubiquitin
  • Aprotinin
  • Alanine