Wang, J. On contribution of known atomic partial charges of protein backbone in electrostatic potential density maps. Protein Science, 2017, 26, 1098-1104
Partial charges of atoms in a molecule and electrostatic potential (ESP) density for that molecule are known to bear a strong correlation. In order to generate a set of point-field force field parameters for molecular dynamics, Kollman and coworkers have extracted atomic partial charges for each of all 20 amino acids using restrained partial charge-fitting procedures from theoretical ESP density obtained from condensed-state quantum mechanics. The magnitude of atomic partial charges for neutral peptide backbone they have obtained is similar to that of partial atomic charges for ionized carboxylate side chain atoms. In this study, the effect of these known atomic partial charges on ESP is examined using computer simulations and compared with the experimental ESP density recently obtained for proteins using electron microscopy. It is found that the observed ESP density maps are most consistent with the simulations that include atomic partial charges of protein backbone. Therefore, atomic partial charges are integral part of atomic properties in protein molecules and should be included in model refinement.