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J Comput Aided Mol Des. 2006 May;20(5):263-79. Epub 2006 Sep 28.

RNA unrestrained molecular dynamics ensemble improves agreement with experimental NMR data compared to single static structure: a test case.

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  • 1Discovery Research Informatics, Computer-Assisted Drug Design, Pfizer Global Research and Development, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA.


Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) provides structural and dynamic information reflecting an average, often non-linear, of multiple solution-state conformations. Therefore, a single optimized structure derived from NMR refinement may be misleading if the NMR data actually result from averaging of distinct conformers. It is hypothesized that a conformational ensemble generated by a valid molecular dynamics (MD) simulation should be able to improve agreement with the NMR data set compared with the single optimized starting structure. Using a model system consisting of two sequence-related self-complementary ribonucleotide octamers for which NMR data was available, 0.3 ns particle mesh Ewald MD simulations were performed in the AMBER force field in the presence of explicit water and counterions. Agreement of the averaged properties of the molecular dynamics ensembles with NMR data such as homonuclear proton nuclear Overhauser effect (NOE)-based distance constraints, homonuclear proton and heteronuclear (1)H-(31)P coupling constant (J) data, and qualitative NMR information on hydrogen bond occupancy, was systematically assessed. Despite the short length of the simulation, the ensemble generated from it agreed with the NMR experimental constraints more completely than the single optimized NMR structure. This suggests that short unrestrained MD simulations may be of utility in interpreting NMR results. As expected, a 0.5 ns simulation utilizing a distance dependent dielectric did not improve agreement with the NMR data, consistent with its inferior exploration of conformational space as assessed by 2-D RMSD plots. Thus, ability to rapidly improve agreement with NMR constraints may be a sensitive diagnostic of the MD methods themselves.

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