Molecular dynamics simulation of β 2-microglobulin in denaturing and stabilizing conditions

Federico Fogolari, Alessandra Corazza, Nicola Varini, Matteo Rotter, Devrim Gumral, Luca Codutti, Enrico Rennella, Paolo Viglino, Vittorio Bellotti, Gennaro Esposito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


β 2-Microglobulin has been a model system for the study of fibril formation for 20 years. The experimental study of β 2-microglobulin structure, dynamics, and thermodynamics in solution, at atomic detail, along the pathway leading to fibril formation is difficult because the onset of disorder and aggregation prevents signal resolution in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance experiments. Moreover, it is difficult to characterize conformers in exchange equilibrium. To gain insight (at atomic level) on processes for which experimental information is available at molecular or supramolecular level, molecular dynamics simulations have been widely used in the last decade. Here, we use molecular dynamics to address three key aspects of β 2-microglobulin, which are known to be relevant to amyloid formation: (1) 60 ns molecular dynamics simulations of β 2-microglobulin in trifluoroethanol and in conditions mimicking low pH are used to study the behavior of the protein in environmental conditions that are able to trigger amyloid formation; (2) adaptive biasing force molecular dynamics simulation is used to force cis-trans isomerization at Proline 32 and to calculate the relative free energy in the folded and unfolded state. The native-like trans-conformer (known as intermediate 2 and determining the slow phase of refolding), is simulated for 10 ns, detailing the possible link between cis-trans isomerization and conformational disorder; (3) molecular dynamics simulation of highly concentrated doxycycline (a molecule able to suppress fibril formation) in the presence of β 2-microglobulin provides details of the binding modes of the drug and a rationale for its effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)986-1001
Number of pages16
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Cis-trans isomerization
  • Doxycycline
  • Low pH
  • TFE
  • Tetracycline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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