Molecular dynamics simulation was used to study ion permeation through different membrane proteins embedded in a lipid bilayer (DMPC) with different saline solutions. The potential of mean force (PMF) for ion transport was obtained by umbrella sampling simulations. A revised MacKerell force field for tryptophan residues was studied using gramicidin A (gA) channel as a test model. The revised force field contribution to the Na+ PMF was consonant with the prediction from the experimental results, but in stark contrast to the prediction of the CHARMM force field, version 22, for the tryptophan side-chain. A new grid-based correction map algorithm by MacKerell group, called CMAP, was introduced into the CHARMM force field, version 31. The CMAP algorithm focused on optimizing phi, psi dihedral parameters for the peptide backbone. The CMAP corrections reduced the excessive translocation barrier. Decomposition demonstrated the reduction in the translocation barrier was due to effects on the K+ PMFH2O rather than on K+ PMFgA. The presence of negatively charged sulfonate group at the entrance and exit of the gA channel affected the depth and the location of the highly occupied sites. The negatively charged sulfonate group produced a strong attraction for the cations in the bulk towards the channel mouth. In the M2 transmembrane domain channel (M2-TMD), three M2-TMD structures were studied, differing only in whether the selectivity-filter (four His37 side-chains) was uncharged, +2 charged, or +3 charged. M2-TMD structural properties were compared with the structural properties of other models extracted from NMR and X-ray studies. The spontaneous cation and anion entry into the charged selectivity-filter was different from that into a neutral selectivity-filter. Cl- ions had a lower free-energy barrier in the selectivity-filter than either Na+ or NH4+ ions through the M2-TMD channel. NH4+ ions had a lower free-energy barrier in the selectivity-filter than Na+ ions. Based on accessible rotamer conformations, a revised conductance mechanism was proposed. In this conductance mechanism, the His37 side-chain functioned as an acceptor and donor group, whereas the Trp41 side-chain functioned as a carrying group.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


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Membrane protein, Potential of mean force, Highly occupied site, Independent transport coordinate, Relative transport coordinate, Torsion angles, CMAP, Sulfonate parametrization, Internal resistance, Water layering, Shuttle-shutter mechanism, Influenza A virus