Extension of the Highly Mobile Membrane Mimetic to Transmembrane Systems through Customized in Silico Solvents

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The mechanics of the protein-lipid interactions of transmembrane proteins are difficult to capture with conventional atomic molecular dynamics, due to the slow lateral diffusion of lipids restricting sampling to states near the initial membrane configuration. The highly mobile membrane mimetic (HMMM) model accelerates lipid dynamics by modeling the acyl tails nearest to the membrane center as a fluid organic solvent while maintaining an atomic description of the lipid headgroups and short acyl tails. The HMMM has been applied to many peripheral protein systems; however, the organic solvent used to date caused deformations in transmembrane proteins by intercalating into the protein and disrupting interactions between individual side chains. We ameliorate the effect of the solvent on transmembrane protein structure through the development of two new in silico Lennard-Jones solvents. The parameters for the new solvents were determined through an extensive parameter search in order to match the bulk properties of alkanes in a highly simplified model. Using these new solvents, we substantially improve the insertion free energy profiles of 10 protein side chain analogues across the entire bilayer. In addition, we reduce the intercalation of solvent into transmembrane systems, resulting in native-like transmembrane protein structures from five different topological classes within a HMMM bilayer. The parametrization of the solvents, in addition to their computed physical properties, is discussed. By combining high lipid lateral diffusion with intact transmembrane proteins, we foresee the developed solvents being useful to efficiently identify membrane composition inhomogeneities and lipid binding caused by the presence of membrane proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3764-3776
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 20 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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