Specific interactions of peripheral membrane proteins with lipids: what can molecular simulations show us?
Larsen AH., John LH., Sansom MSP., Corey RA.
Peripheral membrane proteins can reversibly and specifically bind to biological membranes to carry out functions such as cell signalling, enzymatic activity, or membrane remodelling. Structures of these proteins and of their lipid-binding domains are typically solved in a soluble form, sometimes with a lipid or lipid headgroup at the binding site. To provide a detailed molecular view of peripheral membrane protein interactions with the membrane, computational methods such as molecular dynamics (MD) simulations can be applied. Here, we outline recent attempts to characterise these binding interactions, focusing on both intracellular proteins, such as PIP-binding domains, and extracellular proteins such as glycolipid-binding bacterial exotoxins. We compare methods used to identify and analyse lipid binding sites from simulation data and highlight recent work characterising the energetics of these interactions using free energy calculations. We describe how improvements in methodologies and computing power will help MD simulations to continue to contribute to this field in the future.