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Proteins. 1993 Mar;15(3):252-65.

On the calculation of pKas in proteins.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032.


This paper describes a general method to calculate the pKas of ionizable groups in proteins. Electrostatic calculations are carried out using the finite difference Poisson-Boltzmann (FDPB) method. A formal treatment of the calculation of pKas within the framework of the FDPB method is presented. The major change with respect to previous work is the specific incorporation of the complete charge distribution of both the neutral and charged forms of each ionizable group into the formalism. This is extremely important for the treatment of salt bridges. A hybrid statistical mechanical/Tanford-Roxby method, which is found to be significantly faster than previous treatments, is also introduced. This simplifies the problem of summing over the large number of possible ionization states for a complex polyion. Applications to BPTI and serine proteases suggest that the calculations can be quite reliable. However, the necessity of including bound waters in the treatment of the Asp-70... His-31 salt bridge in T4 lysozyme and experience with other proteins suggest that additional factors ultimately need to be considered in a comprehensive treatment of pKas in proteins.

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