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Conformational transitions using molecular dynamics with minimum biasing

Harvey, S.C., Gabb, H.A.
Biopolymers 1993 v.33 no.8 pp. 1167-1172
transfer RNA, phenylalanine, molecular conformation, algorithms, simulation models
The molecular dynamics algorithm (MD), which simulates intramolecular motions on the subnanosecond timescale, has been modified to allow the investigation of slow conformational transitions that do not necessarily occur spontaneously in MD simulations. The method is designated CONTRA MD (CONformational TRAnsitions by Molecular Dynamics with minimum biasing). The method requires the prior definition of a single conformational variable that is required to vary monotonically from an initial conformation to a final target conformation. The simulation is broken up into a series of short free MD segments, and we determine, after each segment of MD, whether or not the system has evolved toward the final conformation. Those segments that do not move the system in that direction are deleted. Those that do move it toward the final conformation are patched together sequentially to generate a single representative trajectory along the transition pathway. The CONTRA MD method is demonstrated first by application to the simultaneous C2'-endo to C3'-endo repucker and anti to syn N-glycosidic torsion transitions in 2'-deoxyadenosine and then to the large-scale bending in phenylalanine transfer RNA.