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J Comput Chem. 2002 Jan 30;23(2):214-21.

Application of the frozen atom approximation to the GB/SA continuum model for solvation free energy.

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Schrödinger Inc, New York, New York 10036, USA.


The generalized Born/surface area (GB/SA) continuum model for solvation free energy is a fast and accurate alternative to using discrete water molecules in molecular simulations of solvated systems. However, computational studies of large solvated molecular systems such as enzyme-ligand complexes can still be computationally expensive even with continuum solvation methods simply because of the large number of atoms in the solute molecules. Because in such systems often only a relatively small portion of the system such as the ligand binding site is under study, it becomes less attractive to calculate energies and derivatives for all atoms in the system. To curtail computation while still maintaining high energetic accuracy, atoms distant from the site of interest are often frozen; that is, their coordinates are made invariant. Such frozen atoms do not require energetic and derivative updates during the course of a simulation. Herein we describe methodology and results for applying the frozen atom approach to both the generalized Born (GB) and the solvent accessible surface area (SASA) parts of the GB/SA continuum model for solvation free energy. For strictly pairwise energetic terms, such as the Coulombic and van-der-Waals energies, contributions from pairs of frozen atoms can be ignored. This leaves energetic differences unaffected for conformations that vary only in the positions of nonfrozen atoms. Due to the nonlocal nature of the GB analytical form, however, excluding such pairs from a GB calculation leads to unacceptable inaccuracies. To apply a frozen-atom scheme to GB calculations, a buffer region within the frozen-atom zone is generated based on a user-definable cutoff distance from the nonfrozen atoms. Certain pairwise interactions between frozen atoms in the buffer region are retained in the GB computation. This allows high accuracy in conformational GB comparisons to be maintained while achieving significant savings in computational time compared to the full (nonfrozen) calculation. A similar approach for using a buffer region of frozen atoms is taken for the SASA calculation. The SASA calculation is local in nature, and thus exact SASA energies are maintained. With a buffer region of 8 A for the frozen-atom cases, excellent agreement in differences in energies for three different conformations of cytochrome P450 with a bound camphor ligand are obtained with respect to the nonfrozen cases. For various minimization protocols, simulations run 2 to 10.5 times faster and memory usage is reduced by a factor of 1.5 to 5. Application of the frozen atom method for GB/SA calculations thus can render computationally tractable biologically and medically important simulations such as those used to study ligand-receptor binding conformations and energies in a solvated environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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