The rate of protein-protein association limits the response time due to protein-protein interactions. The bimolecular association rate may be diffusion-controlled or influenced, and in such cases, Brownian dynamics simulations of protein-protein diffusional association may be used to compute association rates. Here, we report Brownian dynamics simulations of the diffusional association of five different protein-protein pairs: barnase and barstar, acetylcholinesterase and fasciculin-2, cytochrome c peroxidase and cytochrome c, the HyHEL-5 antibody and hen egg lysozyme (HEL), and the HyHEL-10 antibody and HEL. The same protocol was used to compute the diffusional association rates for all the protein pairs in order to assess, by comparison to experimentally measured rates, whether the association of these proteins can be explained solely on the basis of diffusional encounter. The simulation protocol is similar to those previously derived for simulation of the association of barnase and barstar, and of acetylcholinesterase and fasciculin-2; these produced results in excellent agreement with experimental data for these protein pairs, with changes in association rate due to mutations reproduced within the limits of expected computational and modeling errors. Here, we find that for all protein pairs, the effects of mutations can be well reproduced by the simulations, even though the degree of the electrostatic translational and orientational steering varies widely between the cases. However, the absolute values of association rates for the acetylcholinesterase: fasciculin-2 and HyHEL-10 antibody: HEL pairs are overestimated. Comparison of bound and unbound protein structures shows that this may be due to gating resulting from protein flexibility in some of the proteins. This may lower the association rates compared to their bimolecular diffusional encounter rates.
This work describes an example of using Brownian dynamics in kinetic calculations.