Modeling the structure, dynamics, and interactions of biological molecules




Xia, Zhen, active 2013

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Biological molecules are essential parts of organisms and participate in a variety of biological processes within cells. Understanding the relationship between sequence, structure, and function of biological molecules are of fundamental importance in life science and the health care industry. In this dissertation, a multi-scale approach was utilized to develop coarse-grained molecular models for protein and RNA simulations. By simplifying the atomistic representation of a biomolecular system, the coarse-grained approach enables the molecular dynamics simulations to reveal the biological processes, which occur on the time and length scales that are inaccessible to the all-atom models. For RNA, an "intermediate" coarse-grained model was proposed to provide both accuracy and efficiency for RNA 3D structure modeling and prediction. The overall potential parameters were derived based on structural statistics sampled from experimental structures. For protein, a general, transferable coarse-grain framework based on the Gay-Berne potential and electrostatic point multipole expansion was developed for polypeptide simulations. Next, an advanced atomistic model was developed to model electrostatic interaction with high resolution and incorporates electronic polarization effect that is ignored in conventional atomistic models. The last part of my thesis work involves applying all-atom molecular simulations to address important questions and problems in biophysics and structural biology. For example, the interaction between protein and miRNA, the recognition mechanism of antigen and antibody, and the structure dynamics of protein in mixed denaturants.



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