Water follows polar and nonpolar protein surface domains

Baofu Qiao, Felipe Jiménez-Ángeles, Trung Dac Nguyen, Monica Olvera De La Cruz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The conformation of water around proteins is of paramount importance, as it determines protein interactions. Although the average water properties around the surface of proteins have been provided experimentally and computationally, protein surfaces are highly heterogeneous. Therefore, it is crucial to determine the correlations of water to the local distributions of polar and nonpolar protein surface domains to understand functions such as aggregation, mutations, and delivery. By using atomistic simulations, we investigate the orientation and dynamics of water molecules next to 4 types of protein surface domains: negatively charged, positively charged, and charge-neutral polar and nonpolar amino acids. The negatively charged amino acids orient around 98% of the neighboring water dipoles toward the protein surface, and such correlation persists up to around 16 A from the protein surface. The positively charged amino acids orient around 94% of the nearest water dipoles against the protein surface, and the correlation persists up to around 12 A. The charge-neutral polar and nonpolar amino acids are also orienting the water neighbors in a quantitatively weaker manner. A similar trend was observed in the residence time of the nearest water neighbors. These findings hold true for 3 technically important enzymes (PETase, cytochrome P450, and organophosphorus hydrolase). Our results demonstrate that the water-amino acid degree of correlation follows the same trend as the amino acid contribution in proteins solubility, namely, the negatively charged amino acids are the most beneficial for protein solubility, then the positively charged amino acids, and finally the charge-neutral amino acids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19274-19281
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 24 2019


  • AMOEBA force field
  • Proteins
  • Solubility
  • Surface
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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