Martinez, Leandro
Automatic Identification of Mobile and Rigid Substructures in Molecular Dynamics Simulations and Fractional Structural Fluctuation Analysis
PLOS ONE, 10 Art. No. e0119264, MAR 27 2015

The analysis of structural mobility in molecular dynamics plays a key role in data interpretation, particularly in the simulation of biomolecules. The most common mobility measures computed from simulations are the Root Mean Square Deviation (RMSD) and Root Mean Square Fluctuations (RMSF) of the structures. These are computed after the alignment of atomic coordinates in each trajectory step to a reference structure. This rigid-body alignment is not robust, in the sense that if a small portion of the structure is highly mobile, the RMSD and RMSF increase for all atoms, resulting possibly in poor quantification of the structural fluctuations and, often, to overlooking important fluctuations associated to biological function. The motivation of this work is to provide a robust measure of structural mobility that is practical, and easy to interpret. We propose a Low-Order-Value-Optimization (LOVO) strategy for the robust alignment of the least mobile substructures in a simulation. These substructures are automatically identified by the method. The algorithm consists of the iterative superposition of the fraction of structure displaying the smallest displacements. Therefore, the least mobile substructures are identified, providing a clearer picture of the overall structural fluctuations. Examples are given to illustrate the interpretative advantages of this strategy. The software for performing the alignments was named MDLovoFit and it is available as free-software at:


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