Molecular-level computer simulations of peptide aggregation, translocation, and protonation at and in biomembranes are impeded by the large time and length scales involved. We present a computationally efficient, coarse-grained, and solvent-free model for the interaction between lipid bilayers and peptides. The model combines an accurate description of mechanical membrane properties with a new granular representation of the dielectric mismatch between lipids and the aqueous phase. All-atom force fields can be easily mapped onto the coarse-grained model, and parameters for coarse-grained monopeptides accurately extrapolate to membrane permeation free energies for the corresponding dipeptides and tripeptides. Acid-base equilibria of titratable amino acid residues are further studied using a constant-pH ensemble, capturing protonation state changes upon membrane translocation. Important differences between histidine, lysine, and arginine are observed, which are in good agreement with experimental observations.

Supplementary data

You do not currently have access to this content.