Peptide folding driven by Van der Waals interactions

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Contrary to the widespread view that hydrogen bonding and its entropy effect play a dominant role in protein folding, folding into helical and hairpin-like structures is observed in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations without hydrogen bonding in the peptide-solvent system. In the widely used point charge model, hydrogen bonding is calculated as part of the interaction between atomic partial charges. It is removed from these simulations by setting atomic charges of the peptide and water to zero. Because of the structural difference between the peptide and water, van der Waals (VDW) interactions favor peptide intramolecular interactions and are a major contributing factor to the structural compactness. These compact structures are amino acid sequence dependent and closely resemble standard secondary structures, as a consequence of VDW interactions and covalent bonding constraints. Hydrogen bonding is a short range interaction and it locks the approximate structure into the specific secondary structure when it is included in the simulation. In contrast to standard molecular simulations where the total energy is dominated by charge-charge interactions, these simulation results will give us a new view of the folding mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1383-1388
Number of pages6
JournalProtein Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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