Folding simulations of Trp-cage mini protein in explicit solvent using biasing potential replica-exchange molecular dynamics simulations

Srinivasaraghavan Kannan, Martin Zacharias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Replica exchange molecular dynamics (RexMD) simulations are frequently used for studying structure formation and dynamics of peptides and proteins. A significant drawback of standard temperature RexMD is, however, the rapid increase of the replica number with increasing system size to cover a desired temperature range. A recently developed Hamiltonian RexMD method has been used to study folding of the Trp-cage protein. It employs a biasing potential that lowers the backbone dihedral barriers and promotes peptide backbone transitions along the replica coordinate. In two independent applications of the biasing potential RexMD method including explicit solvent and starting from a completely unfolded structure the formation of near-native conformations was observed after 30-40 ns simulation time. The conformation representing the most populated cluster at the final simulation stage had a backbone root mean square deviation of ∼1.3 Å from the experimental structure. This was achieved with a very modest number of five replicas making it well suited for peptide and protein folding and refinement studies including explicit solvent. In contrast, during five independent continuous 70 ns molecular dynamics simulations formation of collapsed states but no near native structure formation was observed. The simulations predict a largely collapsed state with a significant helical propensity for the helical domain of the Trp-cage protein already in the unfolded state. Hydrogen bonded bridging water molecules were identified that could play an active role by stabilizing the arrangement of the helical domain with respect to the rest of the chain already in intermediate states of the protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-460
Number of pages13
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Conformational sampling
  • Molecular dynamics simulation
  • Peptide folding
  • Protein folding
  • Protein structure prediction


Dive into the research topics of 'Folding simulations of Trp-cage mini protein in explicit solvent using biasing potential replica-exchange molecular dynamics simulations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this