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Biophys J. 2010 Dec 1;99(11):3782-91. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.10.035.

Brownian dynamics simulation of protein solutions: structural and dynamical properties.

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Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, Heidelberg, Germany.


The study of solutions of biomacromolecules provides an important basis for understanding the behavior of many fundamental cellular processes, such as protein folding, self-assembly, biochemical reactions, and signal transduction. Here, we describe a Brownian dynamics simulation procedure and its validation for the study of the dynamic and structural properties of protein solutions. In the model used, the proteins are treated as atomically detailed rigid bodies moving in a continuum solvent. The protein-protein interaction forces are described by the sum of electrostatic interaction, electrostatic desolvation, nonpolar desolvation, and soft-core repulsion terms. The linearized Poisson-Boltzmann equation is solved to compute electrostatic terms. Simulations of homogeneous solutions of three different proteins with varying concentrations, pH, and ionic strength were performed. The results were compared to experimental data and theoretical values in terms of long-time self-diffusion coefficients, second virial coefficients, and structure factors. The results agree with the experimental trends and, in many cases, experimental values are reproduced quantitatively. There are no parameters specific to certain protein types in the interaction model, and hence the model should be applicable to the simulation of the behavior of mixtures of macromolecules in cell-like crowded environments.

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