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Schwörer, Magnus; Wichmann, Christoph; Tavan, Paul (2016): A polarizable QM/MM approach to the molecular dynamics of amide groups solvated in water. In: Journal of Chemical Physics, Vol. 144, No. 11, 114504
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Abstract

The infrared (IR) spectra of polypeptides are dominated by the so-called amide bands. Because they originate from the strongly polar and polarizable amide groups (AGs) making up the backbone, their spectral positions sensitively depend on the local electric fields. Aiming at accurate computations of these IR spectra by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, which derive atomic forces from a hybrid quantum and molecular mechanics (QM/MM) Hamiltonian, here we consider the effects of solvation in bulk liquid water on the amide bands of the AG model compound N-methyl-acetamide (NMA). As QM approach to NMA we choose grid-based density functional theory (DFT). For the surrounding MM water, we develop, largely based on computations, a polarizable molecular mechanics (PMM) model potential called GP6P, which features six Gaussian electrostatic sources (one induced dipole, five static partial charge distributions) and, therefore, avoids spurious distortions of the DFT electron density in hybrid DFT/PMM simulations. Bulk liquid GP6P is shown to have favorable properties at the thermodynamic conditions of the parameterization and beyond. Lennard-Jones (LJ) parameters of the DFT fragment NMA are optimized by comparing radial distribution functions in the surrounding GP6P liquid with reference data obtained from a "first-principles" DFT-MD simulation. Finally, IR spectra of NMA in GP6P water are calculated from extended DFT/PMM-MD trajectories, in which the NMA is treated by three different DFT functionals (BP, BLYP, B3LYP). Method-specific frequency scaling factors are derived from DFT-MD simulations of isolated NMA. The DFT/PMM-MD simulations with GP6P and with the optimized LJ parameters then excellently predict the effects of aqueous solvation and deuteration observed in the IR spectra of NMA. As a result, the methods required to accurately compute such spectra by DFT/PMM-MD also for larger peptides in aqueous solution are now at hand. (C) 2016 AIP Publishing LLC.