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Exploiting a Mechanical Perturbation of Titin Domain to Identify How Force Field Parameterization Affects Protein Refolding Pathways

By David Wang, Piotr E. Marszalek

Posted 10 Sep 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/764076

Molecular mechanics force fields have been shown to differ in their predictions of processes such as protein folding. To test how force field differences affect predicted protein behavior, we created a mechanically perturbed model of the beta-stranded I91 titin domain based on atomic force spectroscopy data and examined its refolding behavior using six different force fields. To examine the transferability of the force field discrepancies identified by this model, we compared the results to equilibrium simulations of the weakly helical peptide Ac-(AAQAA)3-NH2. The total simulation time was 80 μs. From these simulations we found significant differences in I91 perturbation refolding ability between force fields. Concurrently, Ac-(AAQAA)3-NH2 equilibration experiments indicated that although force fields have similar overall helical frequencies, they can differ in helical lifetimes. The combination of these results suggests that differences in force field parameterization may allow a more direct transition between the beta and alpha regions of the Ramachandran plot thereby affecting both beta-strand refolding ability and helical lifetimes. Furthermore, the combination of results suggests that using mechanically perturbed models can provide a controlled method to gain more insight into how force fields affect protein behavior.

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