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Free energy determinants of tertiary structure and the evaluation of protein models.


ABSTRACT: We develop a protocol for estimating the free energy difference between different conformations of the same polypeptide chain. The conformational free energy evaluation combines the CHARMM force field with a continuum treatment of the solvent. In almost all cases studied, experimentally determined structures are predicted to be more stable than misfolded "decoys." This is due in part to the fact that the Coulomb energy of the native protein is consistently lower than that of the decoys. The solvation free energy generally favors the decoys, although the total electrostatic free energy (sum of Coulomb and solvation terms) favors the native structure. The behavior of the solvation free energy is somewhat counterintuitive and, surprisingly, is not correlated with differences in the burial of polar area between native structures and decoys. Rather. the effect is due to a more favorable charge distribution in the native protein, which, as is discussed, will tend to decrease its interaction with the solvent. Our results thus suggest, in keeping with a number of recent studies, that electrostatic interactions may play an important role in determining the native topology of a folded protein. On this basis, a simplified scoring function is derived that combines a Coulomb term with a hydrophobic contact term. This function performs as well as the more complete free energy evaluation in distinguishing the native structure from misfolded decoys. Its computational efficiency suggests that it can be used in protein structure prediction applications, and that it provides a physically well-defined alternative to statistically derived scoring functions.

SUBMITTER: Petrey D 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC2144503 | BioStudies | 2000-01-01T00:00:00Z

SECONDARY ACCESSION(S): 1clb

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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