Accurate free energy calculation along optimized paths.

Journal of computational chemistry

PubMedID: 19859916

Chen C, Xiao Y. Accurate free energy calculation along optimized paths. J Comput Chem. 2010;31(7):1368-75.
The path-based methods of free energy calculation, such as thermodynamic integration and free energy perturbation, are simple in theory, but difficult in practice because in most cases smooth paths do not exist, especially for large molecules. In this article, we present a novel method to build the transition path of a peptide. We use harmonic potentials to restrain its nonhydrogen atom dihedrals in the initial state and set the equilibrium angles of the potentials as those in the final state. Through a series of steps of geometrical optimization, we can construct a smooth and short path from the initial state to the final state. This path can be used to calculate free energy difference. To validate this method, we apply it to a small 10-ALA peptide and find that the calculated free energy changes in helix-helix and helix-hairpin transitions are both self-convergent and cross-convergent. We also calculate the free energy differences between different stable states of beta-hairpin trpzip2, and the results show that this method is more efficient than the conventional molecular dynamics method in accurate free energy calculation.