Tamura, Koichi; Hayashi, Shigehiko
Linear Response Path Following: A Molecular Dynamics Method To Simulate Global Conformational Changes of Protein upon Ligand Binding

Molecular functions of proteins are often fulfilled by global conformational changes that couple with local events such as the binding of ligand molecules. High molecular complexity of proteins. has, however, been an obstacle to obtain an atomistic view of the global conformational transitions, imposing a limitation on the mechanistic understanding Of the functional processes. In this study, we developed a new method of molecular dynamics (MD) simulation called the linear response path following (LRPF) to simulate a protein's global conformational changes upon ligand binding. The method introduces a biasing force based on a linear response theory, which determines a local reaction coordinate in the configuration space that represents linear coupling between local events of ligand binding and global conformational changes and thus provides one with fully atomistic models undergoing large conformational changes without knowledge of a target structure. The overall transition process involving nonlinear conformational changes is simulated through iterative cycles consisting of a biased MD simulation with an updated linear response force and a following unbiased MD simulation for relaxation. We applied the method to the simulation of global conformational changes of the yeast calmodulin N-terminal domain and successfully searched out the end conformation. The atomistically detailed trajectories revealed a sequence of molecular events that properly lead to the global conformational changes and identified key steps of local global coupling that induce the conformational transitions. The LRPF method provides one with a powerful means to model conformational changes of proteins such as motors and transporters where local global coupling plays a pivotal role in their functional processes.


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