Data-guided Multi-Map variables for ensemble refinement of molecular movies

John W. Vant, Daipayan Sarkar, Ellen Streitwieser, Giacomo Fiorin, Robert Skeel, Josh V. Vermaas, Abhishek Singharoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Driving molecular dynamics simulations with data-guided collective variables offer a promising strategy to recover thermodynamic information from structure-centric experiments. Here, the three-dimensional electron density of a protein, as it would be determined by cryo-EM or x-ray crystallography, is used to achieve simultaneously free-energy costs of conformational transitions and refined atomic structures. Unlike previous density-driven molecular dynamics methodologies that determine only the best map-model fits, our work employs the recently developed Multi-Map methodology to monitor concerted movements within equilibrium, non-equilibrium, and enhanced sampling simulations. Construction of all-atom ensembles along the chosen values of the Multi-Map variable enables simultaneous estimation of average properties, as well as real-space refinement of the structures contributing to such averages. Using three proteins of increasing size, we demonstrate that biased simulation along the reaction coordinates derived from electron densities can capture conformational transitions between known intermediates. The simulated pathways appear reversible with minimal hysteresis and require only low-resolution density information to guide the transition. The induced transitions also produce estimates for free energy differences that can be directly compared to experimental observables and population distributions. The refined model quality is superior compared to those found in the Protein Data Bank. We find that the best quantitative agreement with experimental free-energy differences is obtained using medium resolution density information coupled to comparatively large structural transitions. Practical considerations for probing the transitions between multiple intermediate density states are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number214102
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number21
StatePublished - Dec 7 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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