Electrostatics of cysteine residues in proteins: Parameterization and validation of a simple model

Department of Physics, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27109.
Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics (Impact Factor: 2.63). 11/2012; 80(11):2583-91. DOI: 10.1002/prot.24142
Source: PubMed


One of the most popular and simple models for the calculation of pK(a) s from a protein structure is the semi-macroscopic electrostatic model MEAD. This model requires empirical parameters for each residue to calculate pK(a) s. Analysis of current, widely used empirical parameters for cysteine residues showed that they did not reproduce expected cysteine pK(a) s; thus, we set out to identify parameters consistent with the CHARMM27 force field that capture both the behavior of typical cysteines in proteins and the behavior of cysteines which have perturbed pK(a) s. The new parameters were validated in three ways: (1) calculation across a large set of typical cysteines in proteins (where the calculations are expected to reproduce expected ensemble behavior); (2) calculation across a set of perturbed cysteines in proteins (where the calculations are expected to reproduce the shifted ensemble behavior); and (3) comparison to experimentally determined pK(a) values (where the calculation should reproduce the pK(a) within experimental error). Both the general behavior of cysteines in proteins and the perturbed pK(a) in some proteins can be predicted reasonably well using the newly determined empirical parameters within the MEAD model for protein electrostatics. This study provides the first general analysis of the electrostatics of cysteines in proteins, with specific attention paid to capturing both the behavior of typical cysteines in a protein and the behavior of cysteines whose pK(a) should be shifted, and validation of force field parameters for cysteine residues. Proteins 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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