Membrane Protein Simulations Using AMBER Force Field and Berger Lipid Parameters

J Chem Theory Comput. 2012 Mar 13;8(3):948-58. doi: 10.1021/ct200491c. Epub 2012 Feb 21.


AMBER force fields are among the most commonly used in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of proteins. Unfortunately, they lack a specific set of lipid parameters, thus limiting its use in membrane protein simulations. In order to overcome this limitation we assessed whether the widely used united-atom lipid parameters described by Berger and co-workers could be used in conjunction with AMBER force fields in simulations of membrane proteins. Thus, free energies of solvation in water and in cyclohexane, and free energies of water to cyclohexane transfer, were computed by thermodynamic integration procedures for neutral amino acid side-chains employing AMBER99, AMBER03, and OPLS-AA amino acid force fields. In addition, MD simulations of three membrane proteins in a POPC lipid bilayer, the β2 adrenergic G protein-coupled receptor, Aquaporin-1, and the outer membrane protein Omp32, were performed with the aim of comparing the AMBER99SB/Berger combination of force fields with the OPLS-AA/Berger combination. We have shown that AMBER99SB and Berger force fields are compatible, they provide reliable free energy estimations relative to experimental values, and their combination properly describes both membrane and protein structural properties. We then suggest that the AMBER99SB/Berger combination is a reliable choice for the simulation of membrane proteins, which links the easiness of ligand parametrization and the ability to reproduce secondary structure of AMBER99SB force field with the largely validated Berger lipid parameters.