The transfer of polypeptide segments into lipid bilayers to form transmembrane helices represents the crucial first step in cellular membrane protein folding and assembly. This process is driven by complex and poorly understood atomic interactions of peptides with the lipid bilayer environment. The lack of suitable experimental techniques that can resolve these processes both at atomic resolution and nanosecond timescales has spurred the development of computational techniques. In this review, we summarize the significant progress achieved in the last few years in elucidating the partitioning of peptides into lipid bilayer membranes using atomic detail molecular dynamics simulations. Indeed, partitioning simulations can now provide a wealth of structural and dynamic information. Furthermore, we show that peptide-induced bilayer distortions, insertion pathways, transfer free energies, and kinetic insertion barriers are now accurate enough to complement experiments. Further advances in simulation methods and force field parameter accuracy promise to turn molecular dynamics simulations into a powerful tool for investigating a wide range of membrane active peptide phenomena.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 25, 2010
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