Molecular dynamics simulation of cytochrome c3: Studying the reduction processes using free energy calculations

C. M. Soares, P. J. Martel, J. Mendes, M. A. Carrondo

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30 Citations (Scopus)


The tetraheme cytochrome c3 from Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough is studied using molecular dynamics simulation studies in explicit solvent. The high heme content of the protein; which has its core almost entirely made up of c-type heme, presents specific problems in the simulation. Instability in the structure is observed in long simulations above 1 ns, something that does not occur in a monoheme cytochrome, suggesting problems in heme parametrization. Given these stability problems, a partially restrained model, which avoids destruction of the structure, was created with the objective of performing free energy calculations of heme reduction, studies that require long simulations. With this model, the free energy of reduction of each individual heme was calculated. A correction in the long-range electrostatic interactions of charge groups belonging to the redox centers had to be made in order to make the system physically meaningful. Correlation is obtained between the calculated free energies and the experimental data for three of four hemes. However, the relative scale of the calculated energies is different from the scale of the experimental free energies. Reasons for this are discussed. In addition to the free energy calculations, this model allows the study of conformational changes upon reduction even if the precise details of the structural changes that take place in this system upon individual heme reduction are probably out of the reach of this study, it appears that these structural changes are small, similarly to what is observed for other redox proteins. This does not mean that their effect is minor, and one example is the conformational change observed in propionate D from heme I when heme II becomes reduced. A motion of this kind could be the basis of the experimentally observed cooperativity effects between heme reduction, namely positive cooperativity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1708-1721
Number of pages14
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998


  • nonhumanreduction
  • simulation
  • calculation
  • Desulfovibrio vulgaris
  • energy
  • hydrogen bond
  • molecular dynamics


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