Wonpil Im

University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, United States

Are you Wonpil Im?

Claim your profile

Publications (175)726.29 Total impact

  • Hui Sun Lee · Wonpil Im
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Molecular recognition by protein mostly occurs in a local region on the protein surface. Thus, an efficient computational method for accurate characterization of protein local structural conservation is necessary to better understand biology and drug design. We present a novel local structure alignment tool, G-LoSA. G-LoSA aligns protein local structures in a sequence order independent way and provides a GA-score, a chemical feature-based and size-independent structure similarity score. Our benchmark validation shows the robust performance of G-LoSA to the local structures of diverse sizes and characteristics, demonstrating its universal applicability to local structure-centric comparative biology studies. In particular, G-LoSA is highly effective in detecting conserved local regions on the entire surface of a given protein. In addition, the applications of G-LoSA to identifying template ligands and predicting ligand and protein binding sites illustrate its strong potential for computer-aided drug design. G-LoSA is a useful computational method for exploring interesting biological problems through large-scale comparison of protein local structures and facilitating drug discovery research and development. The program G-LoSA is freely available to academic users at http://im.compbio.ku.edu/GLoSA/. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Protein Science
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This paper reviews various enhanced conformational sampling methods and explicit/implicit solvent/membrane models, as well as their recent applications to the exploration of the structure and dynamics of membranes and membrane proteins. Molecular dynamics simulations have become an essential tool to investigate biological problems, and their success relies on proper molecular models together with efficient conformational sampling methods. The implicit representation of solvent/membrane environments is reasonable approximation to the explicit all-atom models, considering the balance between computational cost and simulation accuracy. Implicit models can be easily combined with replica-exchange molecular dynamics methods to explore a wider conformational space of a protein. Other molecular models and enhanced conformational sampling methods are also briefly discussed. As application examples, we introduce recent simulation studies of glycophorin A, phospholamban, amyloid precursor protein, and mixed lipid bilayers and discuss the accuracy and efficiency of each simulation model and method.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Many biologically active α-helical peptides adopt amphiphilic helical structures that contain hydrophobic residues on one side and hydrophilic residues on the other side. Therefore, α-helix mimetics capable of mimicking such amphiphilic helical peptides should possess higher binding affinity and specificity to target proteins. Here we describe an efficient method for generating amphiphilic α-helix mimetics. One-face α-helix mimetics having hydrophobic side chains on one side was readily converted into amphiphilic α-helix mimetics by introducing appropriate charged residues on the opposite side. We also demonstrate that such two-face amphiphilic α-helix mimetics indeed show remarkably improved binding affinity to a target protein, compared to one-face hydrophobic α-helix mimetics. We believe that generating a large combinatorial library of these amphiphilic α-helix mimetics can be valuable for rapid discovery of highly potent and specific modulators of PPIs.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · ACS Combinatorial Science
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The structure and stability of membrane proteins can vary widely in different detergents and this variability has great practical consequences for working with membrane proteins. Nevertheless, the mechanisms that operate to alter the behavior of proteins in micelles are poorly understood and not predictable. Atomic simulations could provide considerable insight into these mechanisms. Building protein-micelle complexes for simulation is fraught with uncertainty, however, in part because it is often unknown how many detergent molecules are present in the complex. Here, we describe several convenient ways to employ Micelle Builder in CHARMM-GUI to rapidly construct protein-micelle complexes and performed simulations of the isolated voltage-senor domain of voltage-dependent potassium-selective channel and an antimicrobial peptide papiliocin with varying numbers of detergents. We find that once the detergent number exceeds a threshold, protein-detergent interactions change very little and remain very consistent with experimental observations. Our results provide a platform for future studies of the interplay between protein structure and detergent properties at the atomic level.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Proper treatment of nonbonded interactions is essential for the accuracy of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, especially in studies of lipid bilayers. The use of the CHARMM36 force field (C36 FF) in different MD simulation programs can result in disagreements with published simulations performed with CHARMM due to differences in the protocols used to treat the long-range and 1-4 nonbonded interactions. In this study, we systematically test the use of the C36 lipid FF in NAMD, GROMACS, AMBER, OpenMM, and CHARMM/OpenMM. A wide range of Lennard-Jones (LJ) cutoff schemes and integrator algorithms were tested to find the optimal simulation protocol to best match bilayer properties of six lipids with varying acyl chain saturation and head groups. MD simulations of a 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-phosphatidylcholine (DPPC) bilayer were used to obtain the optimal protocol for each program. MD simulations with all programs were found to reasonably match the DPPC bilayer properties (surface area per lipid, chain order parameters, and area compressibility modulus) obtained using the standard protocol used in CHARMM as well as from experiments. The optimal simulation protocol was then applied to the other five lipid simulations and resulted in excellent agreement between results from most simulation programs as well as with experimental data. AMBER compared least favorably with the expected membrane properties, which appears to be due to its use of the hard-truncation in the LJ potential versus a force-based switching function used to smooth the LJ potential as it approaches the cutoff distance. The optimal simulation protocol for each program has been implemented in CHARMM-GUI. This protocol is expected to be applicable to the remainder of the additive C36 FF including the proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and small molecules.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation
  • Yifei Qi · Sunhwan Jo · Wonpil Im
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Many novel broadly neutralizing antibodies against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have been identified during the past decade, providing promising templates for the development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine. Structural studies reveal that the epitopes of some of these antibodies involve one or more crucial glycans, without which the binding is completely abolished. In this study, we have investigated the critical roles of glycans in interactions between HIV-1 gp120 and two broadly neutralizing antibodies PG9 (targeting V1/V2) and PGT128 (targeting V3) that are able to neutralize more than 70% of HIV-1 isolates. We have performed molecular dynamics simulations of PG9 and PGT128, with a number of systems including antibody/gp120 complex with and without glycans, antibody, gp120 with and without glycans, and glycan-only systems. The simulation results show that the complex structures are stabilized by the glycans, and the multivalent interactions between the antibody and gp120 promote cooperativities to further enhance the binding. In the free gp120, the glycans increase the flexibility of the V1/V2 and V3 loops, which likely increases the entropy cost of the antibody recognition. However, the antibodies are able to bind the flexible interface by recognizing the pre-existing glycan conformation, and penetrating the glycan shield with flexible complementarity determining region loops that sample the bound conformations occasionally.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Glycobiology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative disorders, which are characterized by the accumulation of misfolded prion protein (PrP(Sc)) converted from a normal host cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). Experimental studies suggest that PrP(C) is enriched with α-helical structure, whereas PrP(Sc) contains a high proportion of β-sheet. In this study, we report the impact of N-glycosylation and the membrane on the secondary structure stability utilizing extensive microsecond molecular dynamics simulations. Our results reveal that the HB (residues 173 to 194) C-terminal fragment undergoes conformational changes and helix unfolding in the absence of membrane environments because of the competition between protein backbone intramolecular and protein-water intermolecular hydrogen bonds as well as its intrinsic instability originated from the amino acid sequence. This initiation of the unfolding process of PrP(C) leads to a subsequent increase in the length of the HB-HC loop (residues 195 to 199) that may trigger larger rigid body motions or further unfolding around this region. Continuous interactions between prion protein and the membrane not only constrain the protein conformation but also decrease the solvent accessibility of the backbone atoms, thereby stabilizing the secondary structure, which is enhanced by N-glycosylation via additional interactions between the N-glycans and the membrane surface.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Biophysical Journal
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Slow diffusion of the lipids in conventional all-atom simulations of membrane systems makes it difficult to sample large rearrangements of lipids and protein-lipid interactions. Recently, Tajkhorshid and co-workers developed the highly mobile membrane-mimetic (HMMM) model with accelerated lipid motion by replacing the lipid tails with small organic molecules. The HMMM model provides accelerated lipid diffusion by one to two orders of magnitude, and is particularly useful in studying membrane-protein associations. However, building an HMMM simulation system is not easy, as it requires sophisticated treatment of the lipid tails. In this study, we have developed CHARMM-GUI HMMM Builder (http://www.charmm-gui.org/input/hmmm) to provide users with ready-to-go input files for simulating HMMM membrane systems with/without proteins. Various lipid-only and protein-lipid systems are simulated to validate the qualities of the systems generated by HMMM Builder with focus on the basic properties and advantages of the HMMM model. HMMM Builder supports all lipid types available in CHARMM-GUI and also provides a module to convert back and forth between an HMMM membrane and a full-length membrane. We expect HMMM Builder to be a useful tool in studying membrane systems with enhanced lipid diffusion.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Biophysical Journal
  • Sunhwan Jo · Yifei Qi · Wonpil Im
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: N-linked glycans are on protein surfaces and have direct and water/ion-mediated interactions with surrounding amino acids. Such contacts could restrict their conformational freedom compared to the same glycans free in solution. In this work, we have examined the conformational freedom of the N-glycan core pentasaccharide moiety in solution using standard molecular dynamics (MD) simulations as well as temperature replica-exchange MD simulations. Both simulations yield the comparable conformational variability of the pentasaccharide in solution, indicating the convergence of both simulations. The glycoprotein crystal structures are analyzed to compare the conformational freedom of the N-glycan on the protein surface with the simulation result. Surprisingly, the pentasaccharide free in solution shows more restricted conformational variability than the N-glycan on the protein surface. The interactions between the carbohydrate and the protein side chain appear to be responsible for the increased conformational diversity of the N-glycan on the protein surface. Finally, the transfer entropy analysis of the simulation trajectory also reveals an unexpected causality relationship between intramolecular hydrogen bonds and the conformational states in that the hydrogen bonds play a role in maintaining the conformational states rather than driving the change in glycosidic torsional states.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Glycobiology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Coarse-grained simulations are widely used to study large biological systems. Nonetheless, building such simulation systems becomes nontrivial, especially when membranes with various lipid types are involved. Taking advantage of the frameworks in all-atom CHARMM-GUI modules, we have developed CHARMM-GUI Martini Maker for building solution, micelle, bilayer, and vesicle systems as well as systems with randomly distributed lipids using the Martini force field. Martini Maker supports 82 lipid types and different flavors of the Martini force field, including polar and nonpolar Martini, Dry Martini, and ElNeDyn (an elastic network model for proteins). The qualities of the systems generated by Martini Maker are validated by simulations of various examples involving proteins and lipids. We expect Martini Maker to be a useful tool for modeling large, complicated biomolecular systems in a user-friendly way. (Figure Presented).
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Difficulties in estimating the correct number of lipids in each leaflet of complex bilayer membrane simulation systems make it inevitable to introduce a mismatch in lipid packing (i.e., area per lipid) and thus alter the lateral pressure of each leaflet. To investigate potential effects of such mismatch on simulation results, we performed molecular dynamics simulations of saturated and monounsaturated lipid bilayers with and without gramicidin A or WALP23 at various mismatches by adjusting the number of lipids in the bottom leaflet from no mismatch to a 25% reduction compared to those in the upper leaflet. All simulations were stable under the constant pressure barostat, but the mismatch induces asymmetric lipid packing between the leaflets, so that the top leaflet becomes more ordered, and the bottom leaflet becomes less ordered. The mismatch effects on various bilayer properties are mild up to 5-10% mismatch, and bilayers with fully saturated chains appear to be more prone to these effects than those with unsaturated tails. The non-vanishing leaflet surface tensions and the free energy derivatives with respect to the bilayer curvature indicate that the bilayer would be energetically unstable in the presence of mismatch. We propose a quantitative criterion for allowable mismatch based on the energetics derived from a continuum elastic model, which grows as a square root of the number of the lipids in the system. Based on this criterion, we infer that the area per lipid mismatch up to 5% would be tolerable in various membrane simulations of reasonable all-atom system sizes (40-160 lipids per leaflet).
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The membrane-spanning α helices of single-pass receptors play crucial roles in stabilizing oligomeric structures and transducing biochemical signals across the membrane. Probing intermolecular transmembrane interactions in single-pass receptors presents unique challenges, reflected in a gross underrepresentation of their membrane-embedded domains in structural databases. Here, we present two high-resolution structures of transmembrane assemblies from a eukaryotic single-pass protein crystallized in a lipidic membrane environment. Trimeric and tetrameric structures of the immunoreceptor signaling module DAP12, determined to 1.77-Å and 2.14-Å resolution, respectively, are organized by the same polar surfaces that govern intramembrane assembly with client receptors. We demonstrate that, in addition to the well-studied dimeric form, these trimeric and tetrameric structures are made in cells, and their formation is competitive with receptor association in the ER. The polar transmembrane sequences therefore act as primary determinants of oligomerization specificity through interplay between charge shielding and sequestration of polar surfaces within helix interfaces.
    No preview · Article · May 2015 · Cell Reports
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Solid-state NMR has been used to determine the structures of membrane proteins in native-like lipid bilayer environments. Most structure calculations based on solid-state NMR observables are performed using simulated annealing with restrained molecular dynamics and an energy function, where all nonbonded interactions are represented by a single, purely repulsive term with no contributions from van der Waals attractive, electrostatic, or solvation energy. To our knowledge, this is the first application of an ensemble dynamics technique performed in explicit membranes that uses experimental solid-state NMR observables to obtain the refined structure of a membrane protein together with information about its dynamics and its interactions with lipids. Using the membrane-bound form of the fd coat protein as a model membrane protein and its experimental solid-state NMR data, we performed restrained ensemble dynamics simulations with different ensemble sizes in explicit membranes. For comparison, a molecular dynamics simulation of fd coat protein was also performed without any restraints. The average orientation of each protein helix is similar to a structure determined by traditional single-conformer approaches. However, their variations are limited in the resulting ensemble of structures with one or two replicas, as they are under the strong influence of solid-state NMR restraints. Although highly consistent with all solid-state NMR observables, the ensembles of more than two replicas show larger orientational variations similar to those observed in the molecular dynamics simulation without restraints. In particular, in these explicit membrane simulations, Lys(40), residing at the C-terminal side of the transmembrane helix, is observed to cause local membrane curvature. Therefore, compared to traditional single-conformer approaches in implicit environments, solid-state NMR restrained ensemble simulations in explicit membranes readily characterize not only protein dynamics but also protein-lipid interactions in detail. Copyright © 2015 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Biophysical Journal
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Glycans play critical roles in many biological processes, and their structural diversity is key for specific protein-glycan recognition. Comparative structural studies of biological molecules provide useful insight into their biological relationships. However, most computational tools are designed for protein structure, and despite their importance, there is no currently available tool for comparing glycan structures in a sequence order- and size-independent manner. A novel method, GS-align, is developed for glycan structure alignment and similarity measurement. GS-align generates possible alignments between two glycan structures through iterative maximum clique search and fragment superposition. The optimal alignment is then determined by the maximum structural similarity score, GS-score, which is size-independent. Benchmark tests against the PDB N-linked glycan library and PDB homologous/non-homologous N-glycoprotein sets indicate that GS-align is a robust computational tool to align glycan structures and quantify their structural similarity. GS-align is also applied to template-based glycan structure prediction and monosaccharide substitution matrix generation to illustrate its utility. wonpil@ku.edu Availability: http://www.glycanstructure.org/gsalign. Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online. © The Author (2015). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Bioinformatics
  • Hui Sun Lee · Chaok Seok · Wonpil Im
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) play fundamental roles in physiological processes by modulating diverse signaling pathways and thus have been one of the most important drug targets. Based on the fact that GPCR-mediated signaling is modulated in a ligand-specific manner such as agonist, inverse agonist, and neutral antagonist, termed efficacy, quantitative characterization of the ligand efficacy is essential for rational design of selective modulators for GPCR targets. As experimental approaches for this purpose are time-, cost-, and labor-intensive, computational tools that can systematically predict GPCR ligand efficacy can have a big impact on GPCR drug design. Here, we have performed free energy perturbation molecular dynamics simulations to calculate absolute binding free energy of an inverse agonist, a neutral antagonist, and an agonist to β2-adrenergic receptor (β2-AR) active and inactive states, respectively, in explicit lipid bilayers. Relatively short alchemical free energy calculations reveal that both the time-series of the total binding free energy and decomposed energy contributions can be used as relevant physical properties to discriminate β2-AR ligand efficacy. This study illustrates a merit of the current approach over simple, fast docking calculations and highly expensive millisecond-timescale simulations.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Molecular dynamics simulations are an effective tool to study the structure, dynamics, and thermodynamics of carbohydrates and proteins. However, the simulations of heterogeneous glycoprotein systems have been limited due to the lack of appropriate molecular force field parameters describing the linkage between the carbohydrate and the protein regions as well as the tools to prepare these systems for modeling studies. In this work we outline the recent developments in the CHARMM carbohydrate force field to treat glycoproteins and describe in detail the step-by-step procedures involved in building glycoprotein geometries using CHARMM-GUI Glycan Reader.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: While membrane simulations are widely employed to study the structure and dynamics of various lipid bilayers and membrane proteins in the bilayers, simulations of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) in membrane environments have been limited due to their structural complexity, difficulties in building LPS-membrane systems, and lack of the appropriate molecular force fields. In this work, as a first step to extend CHARMM-GUI Membrane Builder to incorporate LPS molecules and to explore their structures and dynamics in membrane environments using molecular dynamics simulations, we describe step-by-step procedures to build LPS bilayer systems using CHARMM and the recently developed CHARMM carbohydrate and lipid force fields. Such procedures are illustrated by building various bilayers of Escherichia coli R1.O6 LPS and the presentation of preliminary simulation results in terms of per-LPS area and density distributions of various components along the membrane normal.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
  • Source
    Hui Sun Lee · Yifei Qi · Wonpil Im
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: N-linked glycosylation is one of the most important, chemically complex, and ubiquitous post-translational modifications in all eukaryotes. The N-glycans that are covalently linked to proteins are involved in numerous biological processes. There is considerable interest in developments of general approaches to predict the structural consequences of site-specific glycosylation and to understand how these effects can be exploited in protein design with advantageous properties. In this study, the impacts of N-glycans on protein structure and dynamics are systematically investigated using an integrated computational approach of the Protein Data Bank structure analysis and atomistic molecular dynamics simulations of glycosylated and deglycosylated proteins. Our study reveals that N-glycosylation does not induce significant changes in protein structure, but decreases protein dynamics, likely leading to an increase in protein stability. Overall, these results suggest not only a common role of glycosylation in proteins, but also a need for certain proteins to be properly glycosylated to gain their intrinsic dynamic properties.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Scientific Reports
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: X-ray crystallography, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and biochemistry were utilized to investigate the effect of introducing hydrophobic interactions in the 4-fold (N148L and Q151L) and B-pores (D34F) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterioferritin B (BfrB) on BfrB function. The structures show only local structural perturbations and confirm the anticipated hydrophobic interactions. Surprisingly, structures obtained after soaking crystals in Fe2+-containing crystallization solution revealed that although iron loads into the ferroxidase centers of the mutants, the side chains of ferroxidase ligands E51 and H130 do not reorganize to bind the iron ions, as is seen in the wt BfrB structures. Similar experiments with a double mutant (C89S/K96C) prepared to introduce changes outside the pores show competent ferroxidase centers that function akin to those in wt BfrB. MD simulations comparing wt BfrB with the D34F and N148L mutants show that the mutants exhibit significantly reduced flexibility, and reveal a network of concerted motions linking ferroxidase centers and 4-fold and B-pores, which are important for imparting ferroxidase centers in BfrB with the required flexibility to function efficiently. In agreement, the efficiency of Fe2+ oxidation and uptake of the 4-fold and B-pore mutants in solution is significantly compromised relative to wt or C89S/K96C BfrB. Finally, our structures show a large number of previously unknown iron binding sites in the interior cavity and B-pores of BfrB, which reveal in unprecedented detail conduits followed by iron and phosphate ions across the BfrB shell, as well as paths in the interior cavity that may facilitate nucleation of the iron phosphate mineral.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Biochemistry
  • Jumin Lee · Wonpil Im

    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Biophysical Journal

Publication Stats

8k Citations
726.29 Total Impact Points


  • 2006-2015
    • University of Kansas
      • Department of Molecular Biosciences
      Lawrence, Kansas, United States
  • 2013
    • Stockholm University
      • Department of Organic Chemistry
      Tukholma, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2011
    • University of Maryland, College Park
      • Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
      CGS, Maryland, United States
  • 2009
    • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
      베서스다, Maryland, United States
  • 2003-2007
    • The Scripps Research Institute
      • Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
      La Jolla, CA, United States
  • 2000-2004
    • Weill Cornell Medical College
      • Department of Biochemistry
      New York, New York, United States
    • Université de Montréal
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • 2002
    • Cornell University
      • Department of Biochemistry
      Ithaca, New York, United States