Protein Folding and structure Prediction from the Ground Up: The Atomistic Associative Memory Structure and Energy Model (AAWSEM)
The associative memory, water mediated, structure and energy model (AWSEM) is a coarse-grained force field with transferable tertiary interactions that incorporates local in sequence energetic biases using bioinformatically derived structural information about peptide fragments with locally similar sequences that we call memories. The memory information from the protein data bank (PDB) database guides proper protein folding. The structural information about available sequences in the database varies in quality and can sometimes lead to frustrated free energy landscapes locally. One way out of this difficulty is to construct the input fragment memory information from all-atom simulations of portions of the complete polypeptide chain. In this paper, we investigate this approach first put forward by Kwac and Wolynes in a more complete way by studying the structure prediction capabilities of this approach for six α-helical proteins. This scheme which we call the atomistic associative memory, water mediated, structure and energy model (AAWSEM) amounts to an ab initio protein structure prediction method that starts from the ground up without using bioinformatic input. The free energy profiles from AAWSEM show that atomistic fragment memories are sufficient to guide the correct folding when tertiary forces are included. AAWSEM combines the efficiency of coarse-grained simulations on the full protein level with the local structural accuracy achievable from all-atom simulations of only parts of a large protein. The results suggest that a hybrid use of atomistic fragment memory and database memory in structural predictions may well be optimal for many practical applications.