Sieradzan, Adam K.; Krupa, Pawel; Scheraga, Harold A.; Liwo, Adam; Czaplewski, Cezary
Physics-Based Potentials for the Coupling between Backbone- and Side-Chain-Local Conformational States in the United Residue (UNRES) Force Field for Protein Simulations

The UNited RESidue (UNRES) model of polypeptide chains is a coarse-grained model in which each amino-acid residue is reduced to two interaction sites, namely, a united peptide group (p) located halfway between the two neighboring a-carbon atoms (C(alpha)s), which serve only as geometrical points, and a united side chain (SC) attached to the respective C alpha. Owing to this simplification, millisecond molecular dynamics simulations of large systems can be performed. While UNRES predicts overall folds well, it reproduces the details of local chain conformation with lower accuracy. Recently, we implemented new knowledge-based torsional potentials (Krupa et al. J. Chem. Theory Comput. 2013, 9, 4620-4632) that depend on the virtual-bond dihedral angles involving side chains: C alpha...C alpha...C alpha...SC (tau((1))), SC...C alpha...C alpha...C alpha (tau((2))), and SC...Ca...Ca...SC (tau((3))) in the UNRES force field. These potentials resulted in significant improvement of the simulated structures, especially in the loop regions. In this work, we introduce the physics-based counterparts of these potentials, which we derived from the all-atom energy surfaces of terminally blocked amino-acid residues by Boltzmann integration over the angles lambda((1)) and lambda((2)) for rotation about the C alpha...C alpha virtual-bond angles and over the side-chain angles x. The energy surfaces were, in turn, calculated by using the semiempirical AM1 method of molecular quantum mechanics. Entropy contribution was evaluated with use of the harmonic approximation from Hessian matrices. One-dimensional Fourier series in the respective virtual-bond-dihedral angles were fitted to the calculated potentials, and these expressions have been implemented in the UNRES force field. Basic calibration of the UNRES force field with the new potentials was carried out with eight training proteins, by selecting the optimal weight of the new energy terms and reducing the weight of the regular torsional terms. The force field was subsequently benchmarked with a set of 22 proteins not used in the calibration. The new potentials result in a decrease of the root-mean-square deviation of the average conformation from the respective experimental structure by 0.86 angstrom on average; however, improvement of up to 5 angstrom was observed for some proteins.


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