Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Understanding the energetics of peripheral protein-membrane interactions is important to many areas of biophysical chemistry and cell biology. Estimating free-energy landscapes by molecular dynamics (MD) simulation is challenging for such systems, especially when membrane recognition involves complex lipids, e.g., phosphatidylinositol phosphates (PIPs). We combined coarse-grained MD simulations with umbrella sampling to quantify the binding of the well-explored GRP1 pleckstrin homology (PH) domain to model membranes containing PIP molecules. The experimentally observed preference of GRP1-PH for PIP3 over PIP2 was reproduced. Mutation of a key residue (K273A) within the canonical PIP-binding site significantly reduced the free energy of PIP binding. The presence of a noncanonical PIP-interaction site, observed experimentally in other PH domains but not previously in GRP1-PH, was also revealed. These studies demonstrate how combining coarse-grained simulations and umbrella sampling can unmask the molecular basis of the energetics of interactions between peripheral membrane proteins and complex cellular membranes.

Original publication




Journal article


J Phys Chem Lett

Publication Date





1219 - 1224


Animals, Binding Sites, Humans, Lipid Bilayers, Mice, Molecular Dynamics Simulation, Phosphatidylcholines, Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates, Phosphatidylserines, Pleckstrin Homology Domains, Protein Binding, Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear, Thermodynamics