Partial unfolding and refolding for structure refinement: A unified approach of geometric simulations and molecular dynamics

Avishek Kumar, Paul Campitelli, Michael Thorpe, Sefika Ozkan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The most successful protein structure prediction methods to date have been template-based modeling (TBM) or homology modeling, which predicts protein structure based on experimental structures. These high accuracy predictions sometimes retain structural errors due to incorrect templates or a lack of accurate templates in the case of low sequence similarity, making these structures inadequate in drug-design studies or molecular dynamics simulations. We have developed a new physics based approach to the protein refinement problem by mimicking the mechanism of chaperons that rehabilitate misfolded proteins. The template structure is unfolded by selectively (targeted) pulling on different portions of the protein using the geometric based technique FRODA, and then refolded using hierarchically restrained replica exchange molecular dynamics simulations (hr-REMD). FRODA unfolding is used to create a diverse set of topologies for surveying near native-like structures from a template and to provide a set of persistent contacts to be employed during re-folding. We have tested our approach on 13 previous CASP targets and observed that this method of folding an ensemble of partially unfolded structures, through the hierarchical addition of contact restraints (that is, first local and then nonlocal interactions), leads to a refolding of the structure along with refinement in most cases (12/13). Although this approach yields refined models through advancement in sampling, the task of blind selection of the best refined models still needs to be solved. Overall, the method can be useful for improved sampling for low resolution models where certain of the portions of the structure are incorrectly modeled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2279-2292
Number of pages14
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • CASP
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Protein folding
  • Protein model refinement
  • Replica exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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