De novo simulations of the folding thermodynamics of the GCN4 leucine zipper
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Entropy Sampling Monte Carlo (ESMC) simulations were carried out to study the thermodynamics of the folding transition in the GCN4 leucine zipper (GCN4-lz) in the context of a reduced model. Using the calculated partition functions for the monomer and dimer, and taking into account the equilibrium between the monomer and dimer, the average helix content of the GCN4-lz was computed over a range of temperatures and chain concentrations. The predicted helix contents for the native and denatured states of GCN4-lz agree with the experimental values. Similar to experimental results, our helix content versus temperature curves show a small linear decline in helix content with an increase in temperature in the native region. This is followed by a sharp transition to the denatured state. van’t Hoff analysis of the helix content versus temperature curves indicates that the folding transition can be described using a two-state model. This indicates that knowledge-based potentials can be used to describe the properties of the folded and unfolded states of proteins.