SQUEEZE-E: The Optimal Solution for Molecular Simulations with Periodic Boundary Conditions
by Tsjerk A. Wassenaar *†‡, Sjoerd de Vries ‡, Alexandre M. J. J. Bonvin ‡, and Henk Bekker §
In molecular simulations of macromolecules, it is desirable to limit the amount of solvent in the system to avoid spending computational resources on uninteresting solvent–solvent interactions. As a consequence, periodic boundary conditions are commonly used, with a simulation box chosen as small as possible, for a given minimal distance between images. Here, we describe how such a simulation cell can be set up for ensembles, taking into account a priori available or estimable information regarding conformational flexibility. Doing so ensures that any conformation present in the input ensemble will satisfy the distance criterion during the simulation. This helps avoid periodicity artifacts due to conformational changes. The method introduces three new approaches in computational geometry: (1) The first is the derivation of an optimal packing of ensembles, for which the mathematical framework is described. (2) A new method for approximating the α-hull and the contact body for single bodies and ensembles is presented, which is orders of magnitude faster than existing routines, allowing the calculation of packings of large ensembles and/or large bodies. 3. A routine is described for searching a combination of three vectors on a discretized contact body forming a reduced base for a lattice with minimal cell volume. The new algorithms reduce the time required to calculate packings of single bodies from minutes or hours to seconds. The use and efficacy of the method is demonstrated for ensembles obtained from NMR, MD simulations, and elastic network modeling. An implementation of the method has been made available online at http://haddock.chem.uu.nl/services/SQUEEZE/ and has been made available as an option for running simulations through the weNMR GRID MD server at http://haddock.science.uu.nl/enmr/services/GROMACS/main.php.