Multibody correlations in the hydrophobic solvation of glycine peptides

Robert C. Harris, Justin A. Drake, B. Montgomery Pettitt

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12 Scopus citations


Protein collapse during folding is often assumed to be driven by a hydrophobic solvation energy (ΔGvdw) that scales linearly with solvent-accessible surface area (A). In a previous study, we argued that ΔGvdw, as well as its attractive (ΔGatt) and repulsive (ΔGrep) components, was not simply a linear function of A. We found that the surface tensions, γrep, γatt, and γvdw, gotten from ΔGrep, ΔGatt, and ΔGvdw against A for four configurations of deca-alanine differed from those obtained for a set of alkanes. In the present study, we extend our analysis to fifty decaglycine structures and atomic decompositions. We find that different configurations of decaglycine generate different estimates of γrep. Additionally, we considered the reconstruction of the solvation free energy from scaling the free energy of solvation of each atom type, free in solution. The free energy of the isolated atoms, scaled by the inverse surface area the atom would expose in the molecule does not reproduce the γrep for the intact decaglycines. Finally, γatt for the decaglycine conformations is much larger in magnitude than those for deca-alanine or the alkanes, leading to large negative values of γvdw (-74 and -56 cal/mol/Å2 for CHARMM27 and AMBER ff12sb force fields, respectively). These findings imply that ΔGvdw favors extended rather than compact structures for decaglycine. We find that ΔGrep and ΔGvdw have complicated dependencies on multibody correlations between solute atoms, on the geometry of the molecular surface, and on the chemical identities of the atoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number22D525
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number22
StatePublished - Dec 14 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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