Internal Coordinate Molecular Dynamics: A Foundation for Multiscale Dynamics

N Vaidehi and A Jain, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B, 119, 1233-1242 (2015).

DOI: 10.1021/jp509136y

Internal coordinates such as bond lengths, bond angles, and torsion angles (BAT) are natural coordinates for describing a bonded molecular system. However, the molecular dynamics (MD) simulation methods that are widely used for proteins, DNA, and polymers are based on Cartesian coordinates owing to the mathematical simplicity of the equations of motion. However, constraints are often needed with Cartesian MD simulations to enhance the conformational sampling. This makes the equations of motion in the Cartesian coordinates differential-algebraic, which adversely impacts the complexity and the robustness of the simulations. On the other hand, constraints can be easily placed in BAT coordinates by removing the degrees of freedom that need to be constrained. Thus, the internal coordinate MD (ICMD) offers an attractive alternative to Cartesian coordinate MD for developing multiscale MD method. The torsional MD method is a special adaptation of the ICMD method, where all the bond lengths and bond angles are kept rigid. The advantages of ICMD simulation methods are the longer time step size afforded by freezing high frequency degrees of freedom and performing a conformational search in the more important low frequency torsional degrees of freedom. However, the advancements in the ICMD simulations have been slow and stifled by long-standing mathematical bottlenecks. In this review, we summarize the recent mathematical advancements we have made based on spatial operator algebra, in developing a robust long time scale ICMD simulation toolkit useful for various applications. We also present the applications of ICMD simulations to study conformational changes in proteins and protein structure refinement. We review the advantages of the ICMD simulations over the Cartesian simulations when used with enhanced sampling methods and project the future use of ICMD simulations in protein dynamics.

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