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J Comput Chem. 2017 Apr 5;38(9):584-593. doi: 10.1002/jcc.24715. Epub 2017 Jan 28.

DelPhiForce, a tool for electrostatic force calculations: Applications to macromolecular binding.

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Department of Physics, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, 29634.


Long-range electrostatic forces play an important role in molecular biology, particularly in macromolecular interactions. However, calculating the electrostatic forces for irregularly shaped molecules immersed in water is a difficult task. Here, we report a new tool, DelPhiForce, which is a tool in the DelPhi package that calculates and visualizes the electrostatic forces in biomolecular systems. In parallel, the DelPhi algorithm for modeling electrostatic potential at user-defined positions has been enhanced to include triquadratic and tricubic interpolation methods. The tricubic interpolation method has been tested against analytical solutions and it has been demonstrated that the corresponding errors are negligibly small at resolution 4 grids/Å. The DelPhiForce is further applied in the study of forces acting between partners of three protein-protein complexes. It has been demonstrated that electrostatic forces play a dual role by steering binding partners (so that the partners recognize their native interfaces) and exerting an electrostatic torque (if the mutual orientations of the partners are not native-like). The output of DelPhiForce is in a format that VMD can read and visualize, and provides additional options for analysis of protein-protein binding. DelPhiForce is available for download from the DelPhi webpage at


Poisson-Boltzmann equation; binding funnel; electrostatic force; electrostatic interactions; macromolecular binding

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