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Structure. 2011 Dec 7;19(12):1784-95. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2011.09.022.

Atomic-level protein structure refinement using fragment-guided molecular dynamics conformation sampling.

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Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


One of critical difficulties of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations in protein structure refinement is that the physics-based energy landscape lacks a middle-range funnel to guide nonnative conformations toward near-native states. We propose to use the target model as a probe to identify fragmental analogs from PDB. The distance maps are then used to reshape the MD energy funnel. The protocol was tested on 181 benchmarking and 26 CASP targets. It was found that structure models of correct folds with TM-score >0.5 can be often pulled closer to native with higher GDT-HA score, but improvement for the models of incorrect folds (TM-score <0.5) are much less pronounced. These data indicate that template-based fragmental distance maps essentially reshaped the MD energy landscape from golf-course-like to funnel-like ones in the successfully refined targets with a radius of TM-score ∼0.5. These results demonstrate a new avenue to improve high-resolution structures by combining knowledge-based template information with physics-based MD simulations.

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