The Journal of chemical physics

Peptide aggregation and solvent electrostriction in a simple zwitterionic dipeptide via molecular dynamics simulations.

PMID 19586124


We investigate the structure of the glycyl-l-alanine dipeptide in aqueous solution at a 1:20 peptide:water concentration via classical, atomistic molecular dynamics simulations using the CHARMM22 force field, and compare to recent neutron diffraction data [S. E. McLain, A. K. Soper, and A. Watts, Eur. Biophys. J. 37, 647 (2008); S. E. McLain, A. K. Soper, I. Diadone, J. C. Smith, and A. Watts, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 47, 9059 (2008)]. Comparison between simulations and experiments is made using the static structure factor S(Q). The effect of water model (TIP3P, TIP4P, and SPC/E) upon the solution structure is investigated. Agreement between experiment and simulation is generally good across the entire Q range, although some model-dependent variation is observed, particularly in the predicted intensities of features in S(Q). Peptide aggregation is found to be driven by "hydrophilic" (often bifurcated) hydrogen bonds formed between carboxy and amine functional groups, although simulations suggest that the degree of aggregation is less than that observed experimentally. It is found that hydrophobic association is not significant, with hydrophobic hydration being preferred to association. Detailed examination of the solute structural motifs reveals the existence of bifurcated motifs that are suggested to be an artifact of the CHARMM force field, and may imply that classical force fields provide a flawed structural and dynamical description of such molecular fluids. Investigation of the water structure reveals the presence of an electrostrictive effect which manifests itself as an increase in the number of interstitial molecules in the water second coordination shell, in contradiction to suggestions that this phenomenon arises owing to hydrogen bond bending. Detailed analysis based upon two-dimensional distribution functions suggests an intimate link between the phenomenon of electrostriction and the behavior of water under high-pressure compression. We find the magnitude of the electrostrictive effect inferred from the neutron diffraction data to be greater than that found in the simulations. Investigation of the solvation structure suggests that the CHARMM force field overhydrates the terminal carboxy group, and that this overhydration is accompanied by the presence of bifurcated hydrogen bonds.

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Gly-Ala, ≥99.0% (NT)