Improved parametrization of Li +, Na +, K +, and Mg 2+ ions for all-atom molecular dynamics simulations of nucleic acid systems

Jejoong Yoo, Aleksei Aksimentiev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Atomic-scale modeling of compacted nucleic acids has the ability to reveal the inner workings of spectacular biomolecular machines, yet the outcome of such modeling efforts sensitively depends on the accuracy of the underlying computational models. Our molecular dynamics simulations of an array of 64 parallel duplex DNA revealed considerable artifacts of cation-DNA phosphate interactions in CHARMM and AMBER parameter sets: both the DNA arrangement and the pressure inside the DNA arrays were found to be in considerable disagreement with experiment. To improve the models, we fine-tuned van der Waals interaction parameters for specific ion pairs to reproduce experimental osmotic pressure of binary electrolyte solutions of biologically relevant ions. Repeating the DNA array simulations using our parameters produced results consistent with experiment. Our improved parametrization can be directly applied to molecular dynamics simulations of various charged biomolecular systems, including nucleic acids, proteins, and lipid bilayer membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-50
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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