D. Devaurs, K. Molloy, M. Vaisset, A. Shehu, T. Siméon, and J. Cortés, “Characterizing energy landscapes of peptides using a combination of stochastic algorithms,” IEEE Transactions on NanoBioscience, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 545–552, 2015.
Obtaining accurate representations of energy landscapes of biomolecules such as proteins and peptides is central to the study of their physicochemical properties and biological functions. Peptides are particularly interesting, as they exploit structural flexibility to modulate their biological function. Despite their small size, peptide modeling remains challenging due to the complexity of the energy landscape of such highly-flexible dynamic systems. Currently, only stochastic sampling-based methods can efficiently explore the conformational space of a peptide. In this paper, we suggest to combine two such methods to obtain a full characterization of energy landscapes of small yet flexible peptides. First, we propose a simplified version of the classical Basin Hopping algorithm to reveal low-energy regions in the landscape, and thus to identify the corresponding meta-stable structural states of a peptide. Then, we present several variants of a robotics-inspired algorithm, the Transition-based Rapidly-exploring Random Tree, to quickly determine transition path ensembles, as well as transition probabilities between meta-stable states. We demonstrate this combined approach on met-enkephalin.