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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Sep 25;104(39):15340-5. Epub 2007 Sep 18.

Simulating replica exchange simulations of protein folding with a kinetic network model.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 136 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Replica exchange (RE) is a generalized ensemble simulation method for accelerating the exploration of free-energy landscapes, which define many challenging problems in computational biophysics, including protein folding and binding. Although temperature RE (T-RE) is a parallel simulation technique whose implementation is relatively straightforward, kinetics and the approach to equilibrium in the T-RE ensemble are very complicated; there is much to learn about how to best employ T-RE to protein folding and binding problems. We have constructed a kinetic network model for RE studies of protein folding and used this reduced model to carry out "simulations of simulations" to analyze how the underlying temperature dependence of the conformational kinetics and the basic parameters of RE (e.g., the number of replicas, the RE rate, and the temperature spacing) all interact to affect the number of folding transitions observed. When protein folding follows anti-Arrhenius kinetics, we observe a speed limit for the number of folding transitions observed at the low temperature of interest, which depends on the maximum of the harmonic mean of the folding and unfolding transition rates at high temperature. The results shown here for the network RE model suggest ways to improve atomic-level RE simulations such as the use of "training" simulations to explore some aspects of the temperature dependence for folding of the atomic-level models before performing RE studies.

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