Modeling the mechanism of CLN025 beta-hairpin formation

J Chem Phys. 2017 Sep 14;147(10):104107. doi: 10.1063/1.4993207.


Beta-hairpins are substructures found in proteins that can lend insight into more complex systems. Furthermore, the folding of beta-hairpins is a valuable test case for benchmarking experimental and theoretical methods. Here, we simulate the folding of CLN025, a miniprotein with a beta-hairpin structure, at its experimental melting temperature using a range of state-of-the-art protein force fields. We construct Markov state models in order to examine the thermodynamics, kinetics, mechanism, and rate-determining step of folding. Mechanistically, we find the folding process is rate-limited by the formation of the turn region hydrogen bonds, which occurs following the downhill hydrophobic collapse of the extended denatured protein. These results are presented in the context of established and contradictory theories of the beta-hairpin folding process. Furthermore, our analysis suggests that the AMBER-FB15 force field, at this temperature, best describes the characteristics of the full experimental CLN025 conformational ensemble, while the AMBER ff99SB-ILDN and CHARMM22* force fields display a tendency to overstabilize the native state.

MeSH terms

  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Markov Chains
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Oligopeptides / chemistry*
  • Protein Denaturation
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Transition Temperature


  • Oligopeptides