Simulated annealing with restrained molecular dynamics using a flexible restraint potential: theory and evaluation with simulated NMR constraints

Protein Sci. 1996 Apr;5(4):593-603. doi: 10.1002/pro.5560050404.


A new functional representation of NMR-derived distance constraints, the flexible restraint potential, has been implemented in the program CONGEN (Bruccoleri RE, Karplus M, 1987, Biopolymers 26:137-168) for molecular structure generation. In addition, flat-bottomed restraint potentials for representing dihedral angle and vicinal scalar coupling constraints have been introduced into CONGEN. An effective simulated annealing (SA) protocol that combines both weight annealing and temperature annealing is described. Calculations have been performed using ideal simulated NMR constraints, in order to evaluate the use of restrained molecular dynamics (MD) with these target functions as implemented in CONGEN. In this benchmark study, internuclear distance, dihedral angle, and vicinal coupling constant constraints were calculated from the energy-minimized X-ray crystal structure of the 46-amino acid polypeptide crambin (ICRN). Three-dimensional structures of crambin that satisfy these simulated NMR constraints were generated using restrained MD and SA. Polypeptide structures with extended backbone and side-chain conformations were used as starting conformations. Dynamical annealing calculations using extended starting conformations and assignments of initial velocities taken randomly from a Maxwellian distribution were found to adequately sample the conformational space consistent with the constraints. These calculations also show that loosened internuclear constraints can allow molecules to overcome local minima in the search for a global minimum with respect to both the NMR-derived constraints and conformational energy. This protocol and the modified version of the CONGEN program described here are shown to be reliable and robust, and are applicable generally for protein structure determination by dynamical simulated annealing using NMR data.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Protein Conformation
  • Software


  • Plant Proteins
  • crambin protein, Crambe abyssinica