Perspective: Coarse-grained models for biomolecular systems

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By focusing on essential features, while averaging over less important details, coarse-grained (CG) models provide significant computational and conceptual advantages with respect to more detailed models. Consequently, despite dramatic advances in computational methodologies and resources, CG models enjoy surging popularity and are becoming increasingly equal partners to atomically detailed models. This perspective surveys the rapidly developing landscape of CG models for biomolecular systems. In particular, this review seeks to provide a balanced, coherent, and unified presentation of several distinct approaches for developing CG models, including top-down, network-based, native-centric, knowledge-based, and bottom-up modeling strategies. The review summarizes their basic philosophies, theoretical foundations, typical applications, and recent developments. Additionally, the review identifies fundamental inter-relationships among the diverse approaches and discusses outstanding challenges in the field. When carefully applied and assessed, current CG models provide highly efficient means for investigating the biological consequences of basic physicochemical principles. Moreover, rigorous bottom-up approaches hold great promise for further improving the accuracy and scope of CG models for biomolecular systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number090901
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 7 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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