We have applied a new equilibration procedure for the atomic level simulation of a hydrated lipid bilayer to hydrated bilayers of dioleyl- phosphatidylcholine (DOPC) and palmitoyl-oleyl phosphatidylcholine (POPC). The procedure consists of alternating molecular dynamics trajectory calculations in a constant surface tension and temperature ensemble with configurational bias Monte Carlo moves to different regions of the configuration space of the bilayer in a constant volume and temperature ensemble. The procedure is applied to bilayers of 128 molecules of POPC with 4628 water molecules, and 128 molecules of DOPC with 4825 water molecules. Progress toward equilibration is almost three times as fast in central processing unit (CPU) time compared with a purely molecular dynamics (MD) simulation. Equilibration is complete, as judged by the lack of energy drift in 200-ps runs of continuous MD. After the equilibrium state was reached, as determined by agreement between the simulation volume per lipid molecule with experiment, continuous MD was run in an ensemble in which the lateral area was restrained to fluctuate about a mean value and a pressure of 1 atm applied normal to the bilayer surface. Three separate continuous MD runs, 200 ps in duration each, separated by 10,000 CBMC steps, were carried out for each system. Properties of the systems were calculated and averaged over the three separate runs. Results of the simulations are presented and compared with experimental data and with other recent simulations of POPC and DOPC. Analysis of the hydration environment in the headgroups supports a mechanism by which unsaturation contributes to reduced transition temperatures. In this view, the relatively horizontal orientation of the unsaturated bond increases the area per lipid, resulting in increased water penetration between the headgroups. As a result the headgroup-headgroup interactions are attenuated and shielded, and this contributes to the lowered transition temperature.
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