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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1982 Feb;79(4):1346-50.

Molecular dynamics of an alpha-helical polypeptide: Temperature dependence and deviation from harmonic behavior.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.


The mean square amplitudes of atomic fluctuations for a polypeptide (decaglycine) alpha-helix evaluated from molecular dynamics simulations at seven temperatures between 5 and 300 K are compared with analytic harmonic results and with experimental values. Above 100 K the harmonic approximation significantly underestimates the amplitudes of the displacements. Analysis of the time dependence of the fluctuations shows that low-frequency modes (<75 cm(-1)) dominate the atomic fluctuations and that there is a contribution with a very long relaxation time (>10 ps). Quantum corrections to the amplitude of the fluctuations are found to be small above 50 K. The mean square amplitudes obtained from the molecular dynamics simulations are compared with the values derived from x-ray temperature (Debye-Waller) factors for metmyoglobin (80, 250, and 300 K) and ferrocytochrome c (300 K).

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