Tackling force-field bias in protein folding simulations: folding of Villin HP35 and Pin WW domains in explicit water.
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The ability to fold proteins on a computer has highlighted the fact that existing force fields tend to be biased toward a particular type of secondary structure. Consequently, force fields for folding simulations are often chosen according to the native structure, implying that they are not truly "transferable." Here we show that, while the AMBER ff03 potential is known to favor helical structures, a simple correction to the backbone potential (ff03( *)) results in an unbiased energy function. We take as examples the 35-residue alpha-helical Villin HP35 and 37 residue beta-sheet Pin WW domains, which had not previously been folded with the same force field. Starting from unfolded configurations, simulations of both proteins in Amber ff03( *) in explicit solvent fold to within 2.0 A RMSD of the experimental structures. This demonstrates that a simple backbone correction results in a more transferable force field, an important requirement if simulations are to be used to interpret folding mechanism.