How accurate are transition states from simulations of enzymatic reactions?

Dvir Doron, Amnon Kohen, Kwangho Nam, Dan Thomas Major

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rate expression of traditional transition state theory (TST) assumes no recrossing of the transition state (TS) and thermal quasi-equilibrium between the ground state and the TS. Currently, it is not well understood to what extent these assumptions influence the nature of the activated complex obtained in traditional TST-based simulations of processes in the condensed phase in general and in enzymes in particular. Here we scrutinize these assumptions by characterizing the TSs for hydride transfer catalyzed by the enzyme Escherichia coli dihydrofolate reductase obtained using various simulation approaches. Specifically, we compare the TSs obtained with common TST-based methods and a dynamics-based method. Using a recently developed accurate hybrid quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics potential, we find that the TST-based and dynamics-based methods give considerably different TS ensembles. This discrepancy, which could be due equilibrium solvation effects and the nature of the reaction coordinate employed and its motion, raises major questions about how to interpret the TSs determined by common simulation methods. We conclude that further investigation is needed to characterize the impact of various TST assumptions on the TS phase-space ensemble and on the reaction kinetics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1863-1871
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chemical Theory and Computation
Issue number5
StatePublished - 13 May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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