Title: Can Morphing Methods Predict Intermediate Structures?
Movement is crucial to the biological function of many proteins, yet crystallographic structures of proteins can give us only a static snapshot. The protein dynamics that are important to biological function often happen on a time scale that is unattainable through detailed simulation methods such as molecular dynamics as they often involve crossing high-energy barriers. To address this coarse-grained motion, several methods have been implemented as web servers in which a set of coordinates is usually linearly interpolated from an initial crystallographic structure to a final crystallographic structure. We present a new morphing method that does not extrapolate linearly and can therefore go around high energy barriers, and which can produce different trajectories between the same two starting points. In this work, we evaluate our method and other established coarse-grained methods according to an objective measure: how close a coarse-grained dynamics method comes to a crystallographically determined intermediate structure when calculating a trajectory between the initial and final crystal protein structure. We test this with a set of five proteins with at least three crystallographically determined on-pathway high-resolution intermediate structures from the Protein Data Bank.