Conformational dependence of charges in protein simulations.
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We have studied the conformational dependence of molecular mechanics atomic charges for proteins by calculating the charges fitted to the quantum mechanical (QM) electrostatic potential (ESP) for all atoms in complexes between avidin and seven biotin analogues for 20 snapshots from molecular dynamics simulations. We have studied how various other charge sets reproduce those charges. The QM charges, even if averaged over all snapshots or all residues, in general have a larger magnitude than standard Amber charges, indicating that the restraint toward zero in the restrained ESP method is too strong. This has a significant influence on the electrostatic conformational energies and the interaction energy between the biotin ligand and the protein, giving a difference between the QM and Amber charges of 43 and 8 kJ/mol for the negatively charged and neutral biotin analogues, respectively (3-4%). However, this energy difference is strongly reduced if the solvation energy (calculated by the Poisson-Boltzmann or Generalized Born methods) is added, viz., to 7 kJ/mol for charged and 3 kJ/mol for uncharged ligand. In fact, charges need to be recalculated with a QM method only for residues within 7 or 4 A of the ligand, if the error should be less than 4 kJ/mol. Unfortunately, the QM charges do not give significantly better MM/PBSA estimates of ligand-binding affinities than standard Amber charges. (c) 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Comput Chem 2008.