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Biophys J. 1994 Aug; 67(2): 548–559.
PMCID: PMC1225398

Molecular dynamics simulations of an enzyme surrounded by vacuum, water, or a hydrophobic solvent.


We report on molecular dynamics simulations of a medium-sized protein, a lipase from Rhizomucor miehei, in vacuum, in water, and in a nonpolar solvent, methyl hexanoate. Depending on force field and solvent, the molecular dynamics structures obtained as averages over 150 ps had root-mean-square deviations in the range of 1.9 to 3.6 A from the crystal structure. The largest differences between the structures were in hydrogen bonding and exposed surface areas of the protein. The surface area increased in both solvents and became smaller in vacuum. The change of surface exposure varied greatly between different residues and occurred in accordance with the hydrophobicity of the residue and the nature of the solvent. The fluctuations of the atoms were largest in the external loops and agreed well with crystallographic temperature factors. Root-mean-square fluctuations were significantly smaller in the nonpolar solvents than they were in water, which is in accordance with the notion that proteins become more rigid in nonpolar solvents. In methyl hexanoate a partial opening of the lid covering the active site occurred, letting a methyl hexanoate molecule approach the active site.

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Selected References

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