Development of Charge-Augmented Three-Point Water Model (CAIPi3P) for Accurate Simulations of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins

Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) are molecules without a fixed tertiary structure, exerting crucial roles in cellular signalling, growth and molecular recognition events. Due to their high plasticity, IDPs are very challenging in experimental and computational structural studies. To provide detailed atomic insight in IDPs dynamics governing its functional mechanisms, all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are widely employed. However, the current generalist force fields and solvent models are unable to generate satisfactory ensembles for IDPs when compared to existing experimental data. In this work, we present a new solvation model, denoted as Charge-Augmented 3 Point Water model for Intrinsically-disordered Proteins (CAIPi3P). CAIPi3P has been generated by performing a systematic scanning of atomic partial charges assigned to the widely popular molecular scaffold of the three-point TIP3P water model. We found that explicit solvent MD simulations employing CAIPi3P solvation considerably improved the SAXS scattering profiles for three different IDPs. Not surprisingly, this improvement was further enhanced by using CAIPi3P water in combination with the protein force field parametrized for IDPs. We have also demonstrated applicability of CAIPi3P to molecular systems containing structured as well as intrinsically disordered regions/domains. Our results highlight the crucial importance of solvent effects for generating molecular ensembles of IDPs which reproduce the experimental data available. Hence, we conclude that our newly developed CAIPi3P solvation model is a valuable tool assisting molecular simulations of intrinsically disordered proteins and assessing their molecular dynamics.