WatAA: Atlas of Protein Hydration. Exploring synergies between data mining and ab initio calculations
Water molecules represent an integral part of proteins and a key determinant of protein structure, dynamics and function. WatAA is a newly developed, web-based atlas of amino-acid hydration in proteins. The atlas provides information about the ordered first hydration shell of the most populated amino-acid conformers in proteins. The data presented in the atlas are drawn from two sources: experimental data and ab initio quantum-mechanics calculations. The experimental part is based on a data-mining study of a large set of high-resolution protein crystal structures. The crystal-derived data include 3D maps of water distribution around amino-acids and probability of occurrence of each of the identified hydration sites. The quantum mechanics calculations validate and extend this primary description by optimizing the water position for each hydration site, by providing hydrogen atom positions and by quantifying the interaction energy that stabilizes the water molecule at the particular hydration site position. The calculations show that the majority of experimentally derived hydration sites are positioned near local energy minima for water, and the calculated interaction energies help to assess the preference of water for the individual hydration sites. We propose that the atlas can be used to validate water placement in electron density maps in crystallographic refinement, to locate water molecules mediating protein–ligand interactions in drug design, and to prepare and evaluate molecular dynamics simulations. WatAA: Atlas of Protein Hydration is freely available without login at http://www.dnatco.org/WatAA.