Chuankai Zhao and Diwakar Shukla
Scientific Reports, Volume 8, Article number: 17748, 2018.
Publication year: 2018

Molecular simulations can be utilized to predict protein structure ensembles and dynamics, though sufficient sampling of molecular ensembles and identification of key biologically relevant conformations remains challenging. Low-resolution experimental techniques provide valuable structural information on biomolecule at near-native conditions, which are often combined with molecular simulations to determine and refine protein structural ensembles. In this study, we demonstrate how small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) information can be incorporated in Markov state model-based adaptive sampling strategy to enhance time efficiency of unbiased MD simulations and identify functionally relevant conformations of proteins and complexes. Our results show that using SAXS data combined with additional information, such as thermodynamics and distance restraints, we are able to distinguish otherwise degenerate structures due to the inherent ambiguity of SAXS pattern. We further demonstrate that adaptive sampling guided by SAXS and hybrid information can significantly reduce the computation time required to discover target structures. Overall, our findings demonstrate the potential of this hybrid approach in predicting near-native structures of proteins and complexes. Other low-resolution experimental information can be incorporated in a similar manner to collectively enhance unbiased sampling and improve the accuracy of structure prediction from simulation.