Applications of the molecular dynamics flexible fitting method

Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.
Journal of Structural Biology (Impact Factor: 3.23). 10/2010; 173(3):420-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsb.2010.09.024
Source: PubMed


In recent years, cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) has established itself as a key method in structural biology, permitting the structural characterization of large biomolecular complexes in various functional states. The data obtained through single-particle cryo-EM has recently seen a leap in resolution thanks to landmark advances in experimental and computational techniques, resulting in sub-nanometer resolution structures being obtained routinely. The remaining gap between these data and revealing the mechanisms of molecular function can be closed through hybrid modeling tools that incorporate known atomic structures into the cryo-EM data. One such tool, molecular dynamics flexible fitting (MDFF), uses molecular dynamics simulations to combine structures from X-ray crystallography with cryo-EM density maps to derive atomic models of large biomolecular complexes. The structures furnished by MDFF can be used subsequently in computational investigations aimed at revealing the dynamics of the complexes under study. In the present work, recent applications of MDFF are presented, including the interpretation of cryo-EM data of the ribosome at different stages of translation and the structure of a membrane-curvature-inducing photosynthetic complex.

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