"Electrostatics of proteins in dielectric solvent continua: I. Newton's third law marries qE forces."Martina Stork and Paul Tavan
J. Chem. Phys. 126, 165105 (2007)
The authors reformulate and revise an electrostatic theory treating proteins surrounded by dielectric solvent continua [B. Egwolf and P. Tavan, J. Chem. Phys. 118, 2039 (2003)] to make the resulting reaction field (RF) forces compatible with Newton’s third law. Such a compatibility is required for their use in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, in which the proteins are modeled by all-atom molecular mechanics force fields. According to the original theory the RF forces, which are due to the electric field generated by the solvent polarization and act on the partial charges of a protein, i.e., the so-called qE forces, can be quite accurately computed from Gaussian RF dipoles localized at the protein atoms. Using a slightly different approximation scheme also the RF energies of given protein configurations are obtained. However, because the qE forces do not account for the dielectric boundary pressure exerted by the solvent continuum on the protein, they do not obey the principle that actio equals reactio as required by Newton’s third law. Therefore, their use in MD simulations is severely hampered. An analysis of the original theory has led the authors now to a reformulation removing the main difficulties. By considering the RF energy, which represents the dominant electrostatic contribution to the free energy of solvation for a given protein configuration, they show that its negative configurational gradient yields mean RF forces obeying the reactio principle. Because the evaluation of these mean forces is computationally much more demanding than that of the qE forces, they derive a suggestion how the qE forces can be modified to obey Newton’s third law. Various properties of the thus established theory, particularly issues of accuracy and of computational efficiency, are discussed. A sample application to a MD simulation of a peptide in solution is described in the following paper [M. Stork and P. Tavan, J. Chem. Phys., 126, 165106 (2007)].
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