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Quantitative interpretation of FRET experiments via molecular simulation: force field and validation


Best, Robert B; Hofmann, Hagen; Nettels, Daniel; Schuler, Benjamin (2015). Quantitative interpretation of FRET experiments via molecular simulation: force field and validation. Biophysical Journal, 108(11):2721-2731.

Abstract

Molecular simulation is a valuable and complementary tool that may assist with the interpretation of single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) experiments, if the energy function is of sufficiently high quality. Here we present force-field parameters for one of the most common pairs of chromophores used in experiments, AlexaFluor 488 and 594. From microsecond molecular-dynamics simulations, we are able to recover both experimentally determined equilibrium constants and association/dissociation rates of the chromophores with free tryptophan, as well as the decay of fluorescence anisotropy of a labeled protein. We find that it is particularly important to obtain a correct balance of solute-water interactions in the simulations in order to faithfully capture the experimental anisotropy decays, which provide a sensitive benchmark for fluorophore mobility. Lastly, by a combination of experiment and simulation, we address a potential complication in the interpretation of experiments on polyproline, used as a molecular ruler for FRET experiments, namely the potential association of one of the chromophores with the polyproline helix. Under conditions where simulations accurately capture the fluorescence anisotropy decay, we find at most a modest, transient population of conformations in which the chromophores associate with the polyproline. Explicit calculation of FRET transfer efficiencies for short polyprolines yields results in good agreement with experiment. These results illustrate the potential power of a combination of molecular simulation and experiment in quantifying biomolecular dynamics.

Abstract

Molecular simulation is a valuable and complementary tool that may assist with the interpretation of single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) experiments, if the energy function is of sufficiently high quality. Here we present force-field parameters for one of the most common pairs of chromophores used in experiments, AlexaFluor 488 and 594. From microsecond molecular-dynamics simulations, we are able to recover both experimentally determined equilibrium constants and association/dissociation rates of the chromophores with free tryptophan, as well as the decay of fluorescence anisotropy of a labeled protein. We find that it is particularly important to obtain a correct balance of solute-water interactions in the simulations in order to faithfully capture the experimental anisotropy decays, which provide a sensitive benchmark for fluorophore mobility. Lastly, by a combination of experiment and simulation, we address a potential complication in the interpretation of experiments on polyproline, used as a molecular ruler for FRET experiments, namely the potential association of one of the chromophores with the polyproline helix. Under conditions where simulations accurately capture the fluorescence anisotropy decay, we find at most a modest, transient population of conformations in which the chromophores associate with the polyproline. Explicit calculation of FRET transfer efficiencies for short polyprolines yields results in good agreement with experiment. These results illustrate the potential power of a combination of molecular simulation and experiment in quantifying biomolecular dynamics.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Biochemistry
07 Faculty of Science > Department of Biochemistry
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2 June 2015
Deposited On:24 Sep 2015 10:24
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:24
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0006-3495
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2015.04.038
PubMed ID:26039173

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