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Volume 135, Issue 23, 21 December 2011
Fluorescent proteins (FPs) are valuable tools as biochemical markers for studying cellular processes. Red fluorescent proteins (RFPs) are highly desirable for in vivo applications because they absorb and emit light in the red region of the spectrum where cellular autofluorescence is low. The naturally occurring fluorescent proteins with emission peaks in this region of the spectrum occur in dimeric or tetrameric forms. The development of mutant monomeric variants of RFPs has resulted in several novel FPs known as mFruits. Though oxygen is required for maturation of the chromophore, it is known that photobleaching of FPs is oxygen sensitive, and oxygen-free conditions result in improved photostabilities. Therefore, understanding oxygen diffusion pathways in FPs is important for both photostabilites and maturation of the chromophores. In this paper, we use molecular dynamics calculations to investigate the protein barrel fluctuations in mCherry, which is one of the most useful monomeric mFruit variant. We employ implicit ligand sampling to determine oxygen pathways from the bulk solvent into the mCherry chromophore in the interior of the protein. We also show that these pathways can be blocked or altered and barrel fluctuations can be reduced by strategic amino acid substitutions.
Communication: Quantum polarized fluctuating charge model: A practical method to include ligand polarizability in biomolecular simulations135(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.3671638View Description Hide Description
We present a simple and practical method to include ligand electronic polarization in molecular dynamics (MD) simulation of biomolecular systems. The method involves periodically spawning quantum mechanical (QM) electrostatic potential (ESP) calculations on an extra set of computer processors using molecular coordinate snapshots from a running parallel MD simulation. The QM ESPs are evaluated for the small-molecule ligand in the presence of the electric field induced by the protein, solvent, and ion charges within the MD snapshot. Partial charges on ligand atom centers are fit through the multi-conformer restrained electrostatic potential (RESP) fit method on several successive ESPs. The RESP method was selected since it produces charges consistent with the AMBER/GAFF force-field used in the simulations. The updated charges are introduced back into the running simulation when the next snapshot is saved. The result is a simulation whose ligand partial charges continuously respond in real-time to the short-term mean electrostatic field of the evolving environment without incurring additional wall-clock time. We show that (1) by incorporating the cost of polarization back into the potential energy of the MD simulation, the algorithm conserves energy when run in the microcanonical ensemble and (2) the mean solvation free energies for 15 neutral amino acid side chains calculated with the quantum polarized fluctuating charge method and thermodynamic integration agree better with experiment relative to the Amber fixed charge force-field.