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Interactions of lipids are central to the folding and stability of membrane proteins. Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations have been used to reveal the mechanisms of self-assembly of protein/membrane and protein/detergent complexes for representatives of two classes of membrane protein, namely, glycophorin (a simple alpha-helical bundle) and OmpA (a beta-barrel). The accuracy of the coarse-grained simulations is established via comparison with the equivalent atomistic simulations of self-assembly of protein/detergent micelles. The simulation of OmpA/bilayer self-assembly reveals how a folded outer membrane protein can be inserted in a bilayer. The glycophorin/bilayer simulation supports the two-state model of membrane folding, in which transmembrane helix insertion precedes dimer self-assembly within a bilayer. The simulations also suggest that a dynamic equilibrium exists between the glycophorin helix monomer and dimer within a bilayer. The simulated glycophorin helix dimer is remarkably close in structure to that revealed by NMR. Thus, coarse-grained methods may help to define mechanisms of membrane protein (re)folding and will prove suitable for simulation of larger scale dynamic rearrangements of biological membranes.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Chem Soc

Publication Date





2697 - 2704


Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins, Computer Simulation, Glycophorin, Kinetics, Lipid Bilayers, Micelles, Models, Chemical, Models, Molecular, Protein Structure, Secondary