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Issue 25, 2018
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Generalization of the elastic network model for the study of large conformational changes in biomolecules

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Abstract

The elastic network (EN) is a prime model that describes the long-time dynamics of biomolecules. However, the use of harmonic potentials renders this model insufficient for studying large conformational changes of proteins (e.g. stretching of proteins, folding and thermal unfolding). Here, we extend the capabilities of the EN model by using a harmonic approximation described by Lennard-Jones (LJ) interactions for far contacts and native contacts obtained from the standard overlap criterion as in the case of Gō-like models. While our model is validated against the EN model by reproducing the equilibrium properties for a number of proteins, we also show that the model is suitable for the study of large conformation changes by providing various examples. In particular, this is illustrated on the basis of pulling simulations that predict with high accuracy the experimental data on the rupture force of the studied proteins. Furthermore, in the case of DDFLN4 protein, our pulling simulations highlight the advantages of our model with respect to Gō-like approaches, where the latter fail to reproduce previous results obtained by all-atom simulations that predict an additional characteristic peak for this protein. In addition, folding simulations of small peptides yield different folding times for α-helix and β-hairpin, in agreement with experiment, in this way providing further opportunities for the application of our model in studying large conformational changes of proteins. In contrast to the EN model, our model is suitable for both normal mode analysis and molecular dynamics simulation. We anticipate that the proposed model will find applications in a broad range of problems in biology, including, among others, protein folding and thermal unfolding.

Graphical abstract: Generalization of the elastic network model for the study of large conformational changes in biomolecules

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Publication details

The article was received on 15 May 2018, accepted on 08 Jun 2018 and first published on 08 Jun 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8CP03086C
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2018,20, 17020-17028
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    Generalization of the elastic network model for the study of large conformational changes in biomolecules

    A. B. Poma, M. S. Li and P. E. Theodorakis, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2018, 20, 17020
    DOI: 10.1039/C8CP03086C

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