Phosphorylation of a Disordered Peptide - Structural Effects and Force Field Inconsistencies

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Phosphorylation is one of the most abundant types of post-translational modifications of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). This study examines the conformational changes in the 15-residue-long N-terminal fragment of the IDP statherin upon phosphorylation, using computer simulations with two different force fields: AMBER ff99SB-ILDN and CHARMM36m. The results from the simulations are compared with experimental small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and circular dichroism data. In the unphosphorylated state, the two force fields are in excellent agreement regarding global structural properties such as size and shape. However, they exhibit some differences in the extent and type of the secondary structure. In the phosphorylated state, neither of the force fields performs well compared to the experimental data. Both force fields show a compaction of the peptide upon phosphorylation, greater than what is seen in SAXS experiments, although they differ in the local structure. While the CHARMM force field increases the fraction of bends in the peptide as a response to strong interactions between the phosphorylated residues and arginines, the AMBER force field shows an increase of the helical content in the N-terminal part of the peptide, where the phosphorylated residues reside, in better agreement with circular dichroism results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1924-1935
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Theory and Computation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar 10

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Biophysics
  • Theoretical Chemistry


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