ABSTRACT: We examine the dynamical folding pathways of the C-terminal beta-hairpin of protein G-B1 in explicit solvent at room temperature by means of a transition-path sampling algorithm. In agreement with previous free-energy calculations, the resulting path ensembles reveal a folding mechanism in which the hydrophobic residues collapse first followed by backbone hydrogen-bond formation, starting with the hydrogen bonds inside the hydrophobic core. In addition, the path ensembles contain information on the folding kinetics, including solvent motion. Using the recently developed transition interface sampling technique, we calculate the rate constant for unfolding of the protein fragment and find it to be in reasonable agreement with experiments. The results support the validation of using all-atom force fields to study protein folding.
Project description:We examine the dynamical (un)folding pathways of the C-terminal beta-hairpin of protein G-B1 at room temperature in explicit solvent, by employing transition path sampling algorithms. The path ensembles contain information on the folding kinetics, including solvent motion. We determine the transition state ensembles for the two main transitions: 1), the hydrophobic collapse; and 2), the backbone hydrogen bond formation. In both cases the transition state ensembles are characterized by a layer (1) or a strip (2) of water molecules in between the two hairpin strands, supporting the hypothesis of the solvent as lubricant in the folding process. The transition state ensembles do not correspond with saddle points in the equilibrium free-energy landscapes. The kinetic pathways are thus not completely determined by the free-energy landscape. This phenomenon can occur if the order parameters obey different timescales. Using the transition interface sampling technique, we calculate the rate constants for (un)folding and find them in reasonable agreement with experiments, thus supporting the validation of using all-atom force fields to study protein folding.
Project description:We have performed the first unbiased folding simulations of the GB1 hairpin in explicit solvent, using hundreds of microsecond-long molecular dynamics simulations (total time: 0.7 ms). Our simulations are initiated from two sets of structures. Starting from an equilibrium unfolded state, we obtain single-exponential folding kinetics with rate coefficients in good agreement (T=350 K) or within an order of magnitude (T=300 K) of the experimental values. However, simulations initiated from unfolded configurations lacking secondary structure result in biexponential kinetics with an additional fast nanosecond kinetic mode. This mode can strongly bias the folding rate estimated from the mean first passage time, when the trials are much shorter than the folding time. We find that the mechanism of the hairpin folding is insensitive to the details of the initial unfolded ensemble and is initiated by correct formation of the turn of the hairpin, followed by the formation of the native hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic contacts, consistent with experimental -value analysis. Subsequent native interactions can be formed either from the turn or from the hairpin termini, helping to explain an apparent discrepancy in experimental results. From our simulations, we also obtain the transition path durations, a critical parameter for single molecule experiments aiming to resolve events along folding pathways. The lengths of transition paths span a wide range, from 50 ps to 140 ns, at 300 K.
Project description:Association and dissociation of proteins are fundamental processes in nature. Although simple to understand conceptually, the details of the underlying mechanisms and role of the solvent are poorly understood. Here, we investigate the dissociation of the hydrophilic ?-lactoglobulin dimer by employing transition path sampling. Analysis of the sampled path ensembles reveals a variety of mechanisms: (1) a direct aligned dissociation (2) a hopping and rebinding transition followed by unbinding, and (3) a sliding transition before unbinding. Reaction coordinate and transition-state analysis predicts that, besides native contact and neighboring salt-bridge interactions, solvent degrees of freedom play an important role in the dissociation process. Bridging waters, hydrogen-bonded to both proteins, support contacts in the native state and nearby lying transition-state regions, whereas they exhibit faster dynamics in further lying transition-state regions, rendering the proteins more mobile and assisting in rebinding. Analysis of the structure and dynamics of the solvent molecules reveals that the dry native interface induces enhanced populations of both disordered hydration water near hydrophilic residues and tetrahedrally ordered hydration water nearby hydrophobic residues. Although not exhaustive, our sampling of rare unbiased reactive molecular dynamics trajectories enhances the understanding of protein dissociation via complex pathways including (multiple) rebinding events.
Project description:The folding free energy landscape of the C-terminal beta hairpin of protein G has been explored in this study with explicit solvent under periodic boundary condition and OPLSAA force field. A highly parallel replica exchange method that combines molecular dynamics trajectories with a temperature exchange Monte Carlo process is used for sampling with the help of a new efficient algorithm P3ME/RESPA. The simulation results show that the hydrophobic core and the beta strand hydrogen bond form at roughly the same time. The free energy landscape with respect to various reaction coordinates is found to be rugged at low temperatures and becomes a smooth funnel-like landscape at about 360 K. In contrast to some very recent studies, no significant helical content has been found in our simulation at all temperatures studied. The beta hairpin population and hydrogen-bond probability are in reasonable agreement with the experiment at biological temperature, but both decay more slowly than the experiment with temperature.
Project description:All-atom force fields are now routinely used for more detailed understanding of protein folding mechanisms. However, it has been pointed out that use of all-atom force fields does not guarantee more accurate representations of proteins; in fact, sometimes it even leads to biased structural distributions. Indeed, several issues remain to be solved in force field developments, such as accurate treatment of implicit solvation for efficient conformational sampling and proper treatment of backbone interactions for secondary structure propensities. In this study, we first investigate the quality of several recently improved backbone interaction schemes in AMBER for folding simulations of a beta-hairpin peptide, and further study their influences on the peptide's folding mechanism. Due to the significant number of simulations needed for a thorough analysis of tested force fields, the implicit Poisson-Boltzmann solvent was used in all simulations. The chosen implicit solvent was found to be reasonable for studies of secondary structures based on a set of simulations of both alpha-helical and beta-hairpin peptides with the TIP3P explicit solvent as benchmark. Replica exchange molecular dynamics was also utilized for further efficient conformational sampling. Among the tested AMBER force fields, ff03 and a revised ff99 force field were found to produce structural and thermodynamic data in comparably good agreement with the experiment. However, detailed folding pathways, such as the order of backbone hydrogen bond zipping and the existence of intermediate states, are different between the two force fields, leading to force field-dependent folding mechanisms.
Project description:An outstanding challenge in protein folding is understanding the origin of "internal friction" in folding dynamics, experimentally identified from the dependence of folding rates on solvent viscosity. A possible origin suggested by simulation is the crossing of local torsion barriers. However, it was unclear why internal friction varied from protein to protein or for different folding barriers of the same protein. Using all-atom simulations with variable solvent viscosity, in conjunction with transition-path sampling to obtain reaction rates and analysis via Markov state models, we are able to determine the internal friction in the folding of several peptides and miniproteins. In agreement with experiment, we find that the folding events with greatest internal friction are those that mainly involve helix formation, while hairpin formation exhibits little or no evidence of friction. Via a careful analysis of folding transition paths, we show that internal friction arises when torsion angle changes are an important part of the folding mechanism near the folding free energy barrier. These results suggest an explanation for the variation of internal friction effects from protein to protein and across the energy landscape of the same protein.
Project description:We report a numerical study of the (un)folding routes of the truncated FBP28 WW domain at ambient conditions using a combination of four advanced rare event molecular simulation techniques. We explore the free energy landscape of the native state, the unfolded state, and possible intermediates, with replica exchange molecular dynamics. Subsequent application of bias-exchange metadynamics yields three tentative unfolding pathways at room temperature. Using these paths to initiate a transition path sampling simulation reveals the existence of two major folding routes, differing in the formation order of the two main hairpins, and in hydrophobic side-chain interactions. Having established that the hairpin strand separation distances can act as reasonable reaction coordinates, we employ metadynamics to compute the unfolding barriers and find that the barrier with the lowest free energy corresponds with the most likely pathway found by transition path sampling. The unfolding barrier at 300 K is approximately 17 k(B)T approximately 42 kJ/mol, in agreement with the experimental unfolding rate constant. This work shows that combining several powerful simulation techniques provides a more complete understanding of the kinetic mechanism of protein folding.
Project description:Flow-induced shear has been identified as a regulatory driving force in blood clotting. Shear induces beta-hairpin folding of the glycoprotein Ibalpha beta-switch which increases affinity for binding to the von Willebrand factor, a key step in blood clot formation and wound healing. Through 2.1-micros molecular dynamics simulations, we investigate the kinetics of flow-induced beta-hairpin folding. Simulations sampling different flow velocities reveal that under flow, beta-hairpin folding is initiated by hydrophobic collapse, followed by interstrand hydrogen-bond formation and turn formation. Adaptive biasing force simulations are employed to determine the free energy required for extending the unfolded beta-switch from a loop to an elongated state. Lattice and freely jointed chain models illustrate how the folding rate depends on the entropic and enthalpic energy, the latter controlled by flow. The results reveal that the free energy landscape of the beta-switch has two stable conformations imprinted on it, namely, loop and hairpin--with flow inducing a transition between the two.
Project description:We report rate constant calculations and a reaction coordinate analysis of the rate-limiting folding and unfolding process of the Trp-cage mini-protein in explicit solvent using transition interface sampling. Previous transition path sampling simulations revealed that in this (un)folding process the protein maintains its compact configuration, while a (de)increase of secondary structure is observed. The calculated folding rate agrees reasonably with experiment, while the unfolding rate is 10 times higher. We discuss possible origins for this mismatch. We recomputed the rates with the forward flux sampling method, and found a discrepancy of four orders of magnitude, probably caused by the method's higher sensitivity to the choice of order parameter with respect to transition interface sampling. Finally, we used the previously computed transition path-sampling ensemble to screen combinations of many order parameters for the best model of the reaction coordinate by employing likelihood maximization. We found that a combination of the root mean-square deviation of the helix and of the entire protein was, of the set of tried order parameters, the one that best describes the reaction coordination.
Project description:A new analysis of the 20 ?s equilibrium folding/unfolding molecular dynamics simulations of the three-stranded antiparallel ?-sheet miniprotein (beta3s) in implicit solvent is presented. The conformation space is reduced in dimensionality by introduction of linear combinations of hydrogen bond distances as the collective variables making use of a specially adapted principal component analysis (PCA); i.e., to make structured conformations more pronounced, only the formed bonds are included in determining the principal components. It is shown that a three-dimensional (3D) subspace gives a meaningful representation of the folding behavior. The first component, to which eight native hydrogen bonds make the major contribution (four in each beta hairpin), is found to play the role of the reaction coordinate for the overall folding process, while the second and third components distinguish the structured conformations. The representative points of the trajectory in the 3D space are grouped into conformational clusters that correspond to locally stable conformations of beta3s identified in earlier work. A simplified kinetic network based on the three components is constructed, and it is complemented by a hydrodynamic analysis. The latter, making use of "passive tracers" in 3D space, indicates that the folding flow is much more complex than suggested by the kinetic network. A 2D representation of streamlines shows there are vortices which correspond to repeated local rearrangement, not only around minima of the free energy surface but also in flat regions between minima. The vortices revealed by the hydrodynamic analysis are apparently not evident in folding pathways generated by transition-path sampling. Making use of the fact that the values of the collective hydrogen bond variables are linearly related to the Cartesian coordinate space, the RMSD between clusters is determined. Interestingly, the transition rates show an approximate exponential correlation with distance in the hydrogen bond subspace. Comparison with the many published studies shows good agreement with the present analysis for the parts that can be compared, supporting the robust character of our understanding of this "hydrogen atom" of protein folding.