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J Chem Phys. 2018 Aug 21;149(7):072321. doi: 10.1063/1.5027413.

Reservoir pH replica exchange.

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Department of Biophysics, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.
Laboratory of Computational Biology, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-5690, USA.


We present the reservoir pH replica exchange (R-pH-REM) method for constant pH simulations. The R-pH-REM method consists of a two-step procedure; the first step involves generation of one or more reservoirs of conformations. Each reservoir is obtained from a standard or enhanced molecular dynamics simulation with a constrained (fixed) protonation state. In the second step, fixed charge constraints are relaxed, as the structures from one or more reservoirs are periodically injected into a constant pH or a pH-replica exchange (pH-REM) simulation. The benefit of this two-step process is that the computationally intensive part of conformational search can be decoupled from constant pH simulations, and various techniques for enhanced conformational sampling can be applied without the need to integrate such techniques into the pH-REM framework. Simulations on blocked Lys, KK, and KAAE peptides were used to demonstrate an agreement between pH-REM and R-pH-REM simulations. While the reservoir simulations are not needed for these small test systems, the real need arises in cases when ionizable molecules can sample two or more conformations separated by a large energy barrier, such that adequate sampling is not achieved on a time scale of standard constant pH simulations. Such problems might be encountered in protein systems that exploit conformational transitions for function. A hypothetical case is studied, a small molecule with a large torsional barrier; while results of pH-REM simulations depend on the starting structure, R-pH-REM calculations on this model system are in excellent agreement with a theoretical model.

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