Is the prediction of pK(a) values by constant-pH molecular dynamics being hindered by inherited problems?

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Abstract

In this study, we investigate two factors that can hinder the performance of constant-pH molecular dynamics methods in predicting protein pK(a) values, using hen egg white lysozyme as a test system. The first factor is related to the molecular definition and pK(a) value of model compounds in the Poisson-Boltzmann framework. We address this by defining the model compound as a molecular fragment with an associated pK(a) value that is calibrated against experimental data, which results in a decrease of 0.12 units in pK(a) errors. The second addressed factor is the possibility that detrimental structural distortions are being introduced in the simulations by the underlying molecular mechanics force field. This issue is investigated by analyzing how the gradual structural rearrangements affect the predicted pK(a) values. The two GROMOS force fields studied here (43A1 and 53A6) yield good pK(a) predictions, although a time-dependent performance is observed: 43A1 performs better after a few nanoseconds of structural reorganization (pK(a) errors of similar to 0.45), while 53A6 gives the best prediction right at the first nanosecond (pK(a) errors of 0.42). These results suggest that the good performance of constant-pH molecular dynamics methods could be further improved if these force field limitations were overcome.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)3437-3447
JournalProteins-Structure Function And Bioinformatics
Volume79
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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