Quantum Mechanics/Molecular Mechanics Restrained Electrostatic Potential Fitting
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We present a quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) method to evaluate the partial charges of amino acid residues for use in MM potentials based on their protein environment. For each residue of interest, the nearby residues are included in the QM system while the rest of the protein is treated at the MM level of theory. After a short structural optimization, the partial charges of the central residue are fit to the electrostatic potential using the restrained electrostatic potential (RESP) method. The resulting charges and electrostatic potential account for the individual environment of the residue, although they lack the transferable nature of library partial charges. To evaluate the quality of the QM/MM RESP charges, thermodynamic integration is used to measure the pKa shift of the aspartic acid residues in three different proteins, turkey egg lysozyme, beta-cryptogein, and Thioredoxin. Compared to the AMBER ff99SB library values, the QM/MM RESP charges show better agreement between the calculated and experimental pK(a) values for almost all of the residues considered.
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