Available online 30 April 2021 in Trends in Biochemical Sciences (doi 10.1016/j.tibs.2021.04.005):
Molecular dynamics simulations of ion channels
Propelled by enormous increases in computational power, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were first reported in 1957 by B.J. Alder and T.E. Wainwright and since then have moved from this proof of concept to routinely investigating the dynamics of complex systems composed of up to tens of millions of atoms. MD simulations are based on the idea that the equations of motion of a multi-particle system can be solved numerically within an acceptable level of accuracy; the resulting trajectory is key for calculating occupancy probabilities of distinct conformational states (sampling). In advanced protocols, enhanced sampling ensures wide exploration of the configurational space. Further, a strength of MD simulations is that by starting from descriptions of the motions of all atoms, several data learning techniques can be used to conceptualize trajectories. In ion channel biophysics, these tools are used to study ion permeation, conformational cycling, drug binding, and lipid–channel interactions.
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