Design principles for high–pressure force fields: Aqueous TMAO solutions from ambient to kilobar pressures Journal Article uri icon

DCO ID 11121/5600-8357-3660-3797-CC

is Contribution to the DCO

  • YES

year of publication

  • 2016


  • Accurate force fields are one of the major pillars on which successful molecular dynamics simulations of complex biomolecular processes rest. They have been optimized for ambient conditions, whereas high-pressure simulations become increasingly important in pressure perturbation studies, using pressure as an independent thermodynamic variable. Here, we explore the design of non-polarizable force fields tailored to work well in the realm of kilobar pressures – while avoiding complete reparameterization. Our key is to first compute the pressure-induced electronic and structural response of a solute by combining an integral equation approach to include pressure effects on solvent structure with a quantum-chemical treatment of the solute within the embedded cluster reference interaction site model (EC-RISM) framework. Next, the solute’s response to compression is taken into account by introducing pressure-dependence into selected parameters of a well-established force field. In our proof-of-principle study, the full machinery is applied to N,N,N-trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) in water being a potent osmolyte that counteracts pressure denaturation. EC-RISM theory is shown to describe well the charge redistribution upon compression of TMAO(aq) to 10 kbar, which is then embodied in force field molecular dynamics by pressure-dependent partial charges. The performance of the high pressure force field is assessed by comparing to experimental and ab initio molecular dynamics data. Beyond its broad usefulness for designing non-polarizable force fields for extreme thermodynamic conditions, a good description of the pressure-response of solutions is highly recommended when constructing and validating polarizable force fields.


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