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J Phys Chem Lett. 2011;2(13):1526-1532.

Development of the CHARMM Force Field for Lipids.

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Laboratory of Computational Biology, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


The development of the CHARMM additive all-atom lipid force field (FF) is traced from the early 1990's to the most recent version (C36) published in 2010. Though simulations with early versions yielded useful results, they failed to reproduce two important quantities: a zero surface tension at the experimental bilayer surface area, and the signature splitting of the deuterium order parameters in the glycerol and upper chain carbons. Systematic optimization of parameters based on high level quantum mechanical data and free energy simulations have resolved these issues, and bilayers with a wide range of lipids can be simulated in tensionless ensembles using C36. Issues associated with other all-atom lipid FFs, success and limitations in the C36 FF and ongoing developments are also discussed.

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