Structure and Flexibility Within Proteins as Identified Through SAXS

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In a recent article in the General Physiology and Biophysics we describe an analysis tool using relatively inexpensive small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) measurements to identify protein flexibility and validate a constructed minimal ensemble of models, which represent highly populated conformations in solution. The resolution of these results is sufficient to address the questions being asked: what kinds of conformations do the domains sample in solution? In our rigid body modeling strategy BILBOMD molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are used to explore conformational space. A common strategy is to perform the MD simulation on the domains connections at very high temperature, where the additional kinetic energy prevents the molecule from becoming trapped in a local minimum. The MD simulations provide an ensemble of molecular models from which a SAXS curve is calculated and compared to the experimental curve. A genetic algorithm is used to identify the minimal ensemble (minimal ensemble search, MES ) required to best fit the experimental data.

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