Thermodynamic and structural signatures of water-driven methane-methane attraction in coarse-grained mW water

B Song and V Molinero, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 139, 054511 (2013).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4816005

Hydrophobic interactions are responsible for water-driven processes such as protein folding and self-assembly of biomolecules. Microscopic theories and molecular simulations have been used to study association of a pair of methanes in water, the paradigmatic example of hydrophobic attraction, and determined that entropy is the driving force for the association of the methane pair, while the enthalpy disfavors it. An open question is to which extent coarse-grained water models can still produce correct thermodynamic and structural signatures of hydrophobic interaction. In this work, we investigate the hydrophobic interaction between a methane pair in water at temperatures from 260 to 340 K through molecular dynamics simulations with the coarse-grained monatomic water model mW. We find that the coarse-grained model correctly represents the free energy of association of the methane pair, the temperature dependence of free energy, and the positive change in entropy and enthalpy upon association. We investigate the relationship between thermodynamic signatures and structural order of water through the analysis of the spatial distribution of the density, energy, and tetrahedral order parameter Q(t) of water. The simulations reveal an enhancement of tetrahedral order in the region between the first and second hydration shells of the methane molecules. The increase in tetrahedral order, however, is far from what would be expected for a clathrate-like or ice-like shell around the solutes. This work shows that the mW water model reproduces the key signatures of hydrophobic interaction without long ranged electrostatics or the need to be re- parameterized for different thermodynamic states. These characteristics, and its hundred-fold increase in efficiency with respect to atomistic models, make mW a promising water model for studying water-driven hydrophobic processes inmore complex systems. (C) 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.

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