Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Physics


Ulrich Hans Ewald Hansmann


Proteins are linear chain molecules made out of amino acids. Only when they fold to their native states, they become functional. This dissertation aims to model the solvent (environment) effect and to develop & implement enhanced sampling methods that enable a reliable study of the protein folding problem in silico.

We have developed an enhanced solvation model based on the solution to the Poisson-Boltzmann equation in order to describe the solvent effect. Following the quantum mechanical Polarizable Continuum Model (PCM), we decomposed net solvation free energy into three physical terms– Polarization, Dispersion and Cavitation. All the terms were implemented, analyzed and parametrized individually to obtain a high level of accuracy. In order to describe the thermodynamics of proteins, their conformational space needs to be sampled thoroughly. Simulations of proteins are hampered by slow relaxation due to their rugged free-energy landscape, with the barriers between minima being higher than the thermal energy at physiological temperatures. In order to overcome this problem a number of approaches have been proposed of which replica exchange method (REM) is the most popular. In this dissertation we describe a new variant of canonical replica exchange method in the context of molecular dynamic simulation. The advantage of this new method is the easily tunable high acceptance rate for the replica exchange. We call our method Microcanonical Replica Exchange Molecular Dynamic (MREMD). We have described the theoretical frame work, comment on its actual implementation, and its application to Trp-cage mini-protein in implicit solvent. We have been able to correctly predict the folding thermodynamics of this protein using our approach.

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