Sequence-dependent stability test of a left-handed ?-helix motif.
ABSTRACT: The left-handed ?-helix (LHBH) is an intriguing, rare structural pattern in polypeptides that has been implicated in the formation of amyloid aggregates. We used accurate all-atom replica-exchange molecular dynamics (REMD) simulations to study the relative stability of diverse sequences in the LHBH conformation. Ensemble-average coordinates from REMD served as a scoring criterion to identify sequences and threadings optimally suited to the LHBH, as in a fold recognition paradigm. We examined the repeatability of our REMD simulations, finding that single simulations can be reliable to a quantifiable extent. We find expected behavior for the positive and negative control cases of a native LHBH and intrinsically disordered sequences, respectively. Polyglutamine and a designed hexapeptide repeat show remarkable affinity for the LHBH motif. A structural model for misfolded murine prion protein was also considered, and showed intermediate stability under the given conditions. Our technique is found to be an effective probe of LHBH stability, and promises to be scalable to broader studies of this and potentially other novel or rare motifs. The superstable character of the designed hexapeptide repeat suggests theoretical and experimental follow-ups.
Project description:Many problems studied via molecular dynamics require accurate estimates of various thermodynamic properties, such as the free energies of different states of a system, which in turn requires well-converged sampling of the ensemble of possible structures. Enhanced sampling techniques are often applied to provide faster convergence than is possible with traditional molecular dynamics simulations. Hamiltonian replica exchange molecular dynamics (H-REMD) is a particularly attractive method, as it allows the incorporation of a variety of enhanced sampling techniques through modifications to the various Hamiltonians. In this work, we study the enhanced sampling of the RNA tetranucleotide r(GACC) provided by H-REMD combined with accelerated molecular dynamics (aMD), where a boosting potential is applied to torsions, and compare this to the enhanced sampling provided by H-REMD in which torsion potential barrier heights are scaled down to lower force constants. We show that H-REMD and multidimensional REMD (M-REMD) combined with aMD does indeed enhance sampling for r(GACC), and that the addition of the temperature dimension in the M-REMD simulations is necessary to efficiently sample rare conformations. Interestingly, we find that the rate of convergence can be improved in a single H-REMD dimension by simply increasing the number of replicas from 8 to 24 without increasing the maximum level of bias. The results also indicate that factors beyond replica spacing, such as round trip times and time spent at each replica, must be considered in order to achieve optimal sampling efficiency.
Project description:We describe methods to perform replica exchange molecular dynamics (REMD) simulations asynchronously (ASyncRE). The methods are designed to facilitate large scale REMD simulations on grid computing networks consisting of heterogeneous and distributed computing environments as well as on homogeneous high-performance clusters. We have implemented these methods on NSF (National Science Foundation) XSEDE (Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) clusters and BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) distributed computing networks at Temple University and Brooklyn College at CUNY (the City University of New York). They are also being implemented on the IBM World Community Grid. To illustrate the methods, we have performed extensive (more than 60 ms in aggregate) simulations for the beta-cyclodextrin-heptanoate host-guest system in the context of one- and two-dimensional ASyncRE, and we used the results to estimate absolute binding free energies using the binding energy distribution analysis method. We propose ways to improve the efficiency of REMD simulations: these include increasing the number of exchanges attempted after a specified molecular dynamics (MD) period up to the fast exchange limit and/or adjusting the MD period to allow sufficient internal relaxation within each thermodynamic state. Although ASyncRE simulations generally require long MD periods (>picoseconds) per replica exchange cycle to minimize the overhead imposed by heterogeneous computing networks, we found that it is possible to reach an efficiency similar to conventional synchronous REMD, by optimizing the combination of the MD period and the number of exchanges attempted per cycle.
Project description:Two independent replica-exchange molecular dynamics (REMD) simulations with an explicit water model were performed of the Trp-cage mini-protein. In the first REMD simulation, the replicas started from the native conformation, while in the second they started from a nonnative conformation. Initially, the first simulation yielded results qualitatively similar to those of two previously published REMD simulations: the protein appeared to be over-stabilized, with the predicted melting temperature 50-150K higher than the experimental value of 315K. However, as the first REMD simulation progressed, the protein unfolded at all temperatures. In our second REMD simulation, which starts from a nonnative conformation, there was no evidence of significant folding. Transitions from the unfolded to the folded state did not occur on the timescale of these simulations, despite the expected improvement in sampling of REMD over conventional molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The combined 1.42 micros of simulation time was insufficient for REMD simulations with different starting structures to converge. Conventional MD simulations at a range of temperatures were also performed. In contrast to REMD, the conventional MD simulations provide an estimate of Tm in good agreement with experiment. Furthermore, the conventional MD is a fraction of the cost of REMD and continuous, realistic pathways of the unfolding process at atomic resolution are obtained.
Project description:Computing converged ensemble properties remains challenging for large biomolecules. Replica exchange molecular dynamics (REMD) can significantly increase the efficiency of conformational sampling by using high temperatures to escape kinetic traps. Several groups, including ours, introduced the idea of coupling replica exchange to a pre-converged, Boltzmann-populated reservoir, usually at a temperature higher than that of the highest temperature replica. This procedure reduces computational cost because the long simulation times needed for extensive sampling are only carried out for a single temperature. However, a weakness of the approach is that the Boltzmann-weighted reservoir can still be difficult to generate. We now present the idea of employing a non-Boltzmann reservoir, whose structures can be generated through more efficient conformational sampling methods. We demonstrate that the approach is rigorous and derive a correct statistical mechanical exchange criterion between the reservoir and the replicas that drives Boltzmann-weighted probabilities for the replicas. We test this approach on the trpzip2 peptide and demonstrate that the resulting thermal stability profile is essentially indistinguishable from that obtained using very long (>100 ns) standard REMD simulations. The convergence of this reservoir-aided REMD is significantly faster than for regular REMD. Furthermore, we demonstrate that modification of the exchange criterion is essential; REMD simulations using a standard exchange function with the non-Boltzmann reservoir produced incorrect results.
Project description:As they are not subjected to natural selection process, de novo designed proteins usually fold in a manner different from natural proteins. Recently, a de novo designed mini-protein DS119, with a ??? motif and 36 amino acids, has folded unusually slowly in experiments, and transient dimers have been detected in the folding process. Here, by means of all-atom replica exchange molecular dynamics (REMD) simulations, several comparably stable intermediate states were observed on the folding free-energy landscape of DS119. Conventional molecular dynamics (CMD) simulations showed that when two unfolded DS119 proteins bound together, most binding sites of dimeric aggregates were located at the N-terminal segment, especially residues 5-10, which were supposed to form ?-sheet with its own C-terminal segment. Furthermore, a large percentage of individual proteins in the dimeric aggregates adopted conformations similar to those in the intermediate states observed in REMD simulations. These results indicate that, during the folding process, DS119 can easily become trapped in intermediate states. Then, with diffusion, a transient dimer would be formed and stabilized with the binding interface located at N-terminals. This means that it could not quickly fold to the native structure. The complicated folding manner of DS119 implies the important influence of natural selection on protein-folding kinetics, and more improvement should be achieved in rational protein design.
Project description:DNA G-hairpins are potential key structures participating in folding of human telomeric guanine quadruplexes (GQ). We examined their properties by standard MD simulations starting from the folded state and long T-REMD starting from the unfolded state, accumulating ?130 ?s of atomistic simulations. Antiparallel G-hairpins should spontaneously form in all stages of the folding to support lateral and diagonal loops, with sub-?s scale rearrangements between them. We found no clear predisposition for direct folding into specific GQ topologies with specific syn/anti patterns. Our key prediction stemming from the T-REMD is that an ideal unfolded ensemble of the full GQ sequence populates all 4096 syn/anti combinations of its four G-stretches. The simulations can propose idealized folding pathways but we explain that such few-state pathways may be misleading. In the context of the available experimental data, the simulations strongly suggest that the GQ folding could be best understood by the kinetic partitioning mechanism with a set of deep competing minima on the folding landscape, with only a small fraction of molecules directly folding to the native fold. The landscape should further include non-specific collapse processes where the molecules move via diffusion and consecutive random rare transitions, which could, e.g. structure the propeller loops.
Project description:Polymorphism in pathogen antigens presents a complex challenge for vaccine design. A prime example is the N-terminal block 2 region of the Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1), to which allele-specific antibodies have been associated with protection from malaria. In a Zambian population studied here, 49 of 91 alleles sampled were of the K1-like type (the most common of three block 2 types in all African populations), and most of these had unique sequences due to variation in tri- and hexapeptide repetitive motifs. There were significant negative correlations between allelic sequence lengths of different regions of the repeats, so the complete repeat sequence had less length variation than its component parts, suggesting a constraint on overall length. Diverse epitopes recognized by three murine monoclonal antibodies and 24 individual human sera were then mapped by using a comprehensive panel of synthetic peptides, revealing epitopes in all regions of the repeats. To incorporate these different epitopes in a single molecule, a composite sequence of minimal overall length (78 amino acids) was then designed and expressed as a recombinant antigen. More human immune sera reacted with this "K1-like Super Repeat" antigen than with proteins consisting of single natural allelic sequences, and immunization of mice elicited antibodies that recognized a range of five cultured parasite lines with diverse K1-like MSP1 block 2 repeat sequences. Thus, complex allelic polymorphism was deconstructed and a minimal composite polyvalent antigen was engineered, delivering a designed candidate sequence for inclusion in a malaria vaccine.
Project description:A necessary step to properly assess and validate the performance of force fields for biomolecules is to exhaustively sample the accessible conformational space, which is challenging for large RNA structures. Given questions regarding the reliability of modeling RNA structure and dynamics with current methods, we have begun to use RNA tetranucleotides to evaluate force fields. These systems, though small, display considerable conformational variability and complete sampling with standard simulation methods remains challenging. Here we compare and discuss the performance of known variations of replica exchange molecular dynamics (REMD) methods, specifically temperature REMD (T-REMD), Hamiltonian REMD (H-REMD), and multidimensional REMD (M-REMD) methods, which have been implemented in Amber's accelerated GPU code. Using two independent simulations, we show that M-REMD not only makes very efficient use of emerging large-scale GPU clusters, like Blue Waters at the University of Illinois, but also is critically important in generating the converged ensemble more efficiently than either T-REMD or H-REMD. With 57.6 ?s aggregate sampling of a conformational ensemble with M-REMD methods, the populations can be compared to NMR data to evaluate force field reliability and further understand how putative changes to the force field may alter populations to be in more consistent agreement with experiment.
Project description:Experiments suggested that the fibrillation of the 11-25 fragment (hIAPP(11-25)) of human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP or amylin) involves the formation of transient ?-helical intermediates, followed by conversion to ?-sheet-rich structure. However, atomic details of ?-helical intermediates and the transition mechanism are mostly unknown. We investigated the structural properties of the monomer and dimer in atomistic detail by replica exchange molecular dynamics (REMD) simulations. Transient ?-helical monomers and dimers were both observed in the REMD trajectories. Our calculated H(?) chemical shifts based on the monomer REMD run are in agreement with the solution-state NMR experimental observations. Multiple 300 ns MD simulations at 310 K show that ?-helix-to-?-sheet transition follows two mechanisms: the first involved direct transition of the random coil part of the helical conformation into antiparallel ?-sheet, and in the second, the ?-helical conformation unfolded and converted into antiparallel ?-sheet. In both mechanisms, the ?-helix-to-?-sheet transition occurred via random coil, and the transition was accompanied by an increase of interpeptide contacts. In addition, our REMD simulations revealed different temperature dependencies of helical and ?-structures. Comparison with experimental data suggests that the propensity for hIAPP(11-25) to form ?-helices and amyloid structures is concentration- and temperature-dependent.
Project description:Alchemical free energy calculations play a very important role in the field of molecular modeling. Efforts have been made to improve the accuracy and precision of those calculations. One of the efforts is to employ a Hamiltonian replica exchange molecular dynamics (H-REMD) method to enhance conformational sampling. In this paper, we demonstrated that HREMD method not only improves convergence in alchemical free energy calculations but also can be used to compute free energy differences directly via the Free Energy Perturbation (FEP)algorithm. We show a direct mapping between the H-REMD and the usual FEP equations, which are then used directly to compute free energies. The H-REMD alchemical free energy calculation (Replica exchange Free Energy Perturbation, REFEP) was tested on predicting the pK(a) value of the buried Asp26 in thioredoxin. We compare the results of REFEP with TI and regular FEP simulations. REFEP calculations converged faster than those from TI and regular FEP simulations. The final predicted pK(a) value from the H-REMD simulation was also very accurate, only 0.4 pK(a) unit above the experimental value. Utilizing the REFEP algorithm significantly improves conformational sampling, and this in turn improves the convergence of alchemical free energy simulations.