Academic Commons


Developing a molecular dynamics force field for both folded and disordered protein states

Robustelli, Paul; Piana, Stefano; Shaw, David Elliot

Molecular dynamics (MD) simulation is a valuable tool for characterizing the structural dynamics of folded proteins and should be similarly applicable to disordered proteins and proteins with both folded and disordered regions. It has been unclear, however, whether any physical model (force field) used in MD simulations accurately describes both folded and disordered proteins. Here, we select a benchmark set of 21 systems, including folded and disordered proteins, simulate these systems with six state-of-the-art force fields, and compare the results to over 9,000 available experimental data points. We find that none of the tested force fields simultaneously provided accurate descriptions of folded proteins, of the dimensions of disordered proteins, and of the secondary structure propensities of disordered proteins. Guided by simulation results on a subset of our benchmark, however, we modified parameters of one force field, achieving excellent agreement with experiment for disordered proteins, while maintaining state-of-the-art accuracy for folded proteins. The resulting force field, a99SB-disp, should thus greatly expand the range of biological systems amenable to MD simulation. A similar approach could be taken to improve other force fields.


Also Published In

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

More About This Work

Academic Units
Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Published Here
November 2, 2018