Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Arne Gericke, Department Head

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

George A. Kaminski, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Erkan Tuzel, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

John C. MacDonald, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

James P. Dittami, Committee Member




One of the central tasks for biomolecular modeling is to develop accurate and computationally cheap methods. In this dissertation, we present the development of a brand new polarizable force field—Polarizable Simulations with Second order Interaction Model (POSSIM) involving electrostatic polarization. The POSSIM framework combines accuracy of a polarizable force field and computational efficiency of the second-order approximation of the full-scale induced point dipole polarization formalism. POSSIM force field has been extended to include parameters for small molecules serving as models for peptide and protein side-chains. Parameters have been fitted to permit reproducing many-body energies, gas-phase dimerization energies and geometries and liquid-phase heats of vaporization and densities. Quantum mechanical and experimental data have been used as the target for the fitting. The resulting parameters can be used for simulations of the parameterized molecules themselves or their analogues. In addition to this, these force field parameters have been employed in further development of the POSSIM fast polarizable force field for proteins. The POSSIM framework has been expanded to include a complete polarizable force field for proteins. Most of the parameter fitting was done to high-level quantum mechanical data. Conformational geometries and energies for dipeptides have been reproduced within average errors of ca. 0.5 kcal/mol for energies of the conformers (for the electrostatically neutral residues) and 9.7º for key dihedral angles. We have also validated this force field by simulating an elastin-like polypeptide GVG(VPGVG)3 in aqueous solution. Elastin-like peptides with the (VPGVG)n motif are known to exhibit anomalous behavior of their radius of gyration that increases when temperature is lowered (the so called inverse temperature transition). We have simulated the system with the OPLS-AA and POSSIM force fields and demonstrated that our newly developed polarizable POSSIM parameters permit to capture the experimentally observed decrease of the radius of gyration with increasing temperature, while the fixed-charges OPLS-AA ones do not. Furthermore, our fitting of the force field parameters for the peptides and proteins has been streamlined compared with the previous generation of the complete polarizable force field and relied more on transferability of parameters for non-bonded interactions (including the electrostatic component). The resulting deviations from the quantum mechanical data are similar to those achieved with the previous generation, thus the technique is robust and the parameters are transferable. At the same time, the number of parameters used in this work was noticeably smaller than that of the previous generation of our complete polarizable force field for proteins, thus the transferability of this set can be expected to be greater and the danger of force field fitting artifacts is lower. Therefore, we believe that this force field can be successfully applied in a wide variety of applications to proteins and protein-ligand complexes.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Chemistry & Biochemistry

Project Type


Date Accepted





protein force field, torsional fitting, many-body energy, polarizable force fields