Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences

First Advisor

Michael C. McCallum

First Committee Member

Jerry Tsai

Second Committee Member

Doug Weiser


Molecular dynamics (MD) is a powerful tool that can be applied to protein folding and protein structure. MD allows for the calculation of movement, and final position, of atoms in a biomolecule. These movements can be used to investigate the pathways that allow proteins to fold into energetically favorable structures. While MD is very useful, it still has its limitations. Most notable, computing power and time are of constant concern.

Protein structure is inherently important due to the direct link between the structure of a protein and its function. One of the four levels of protein structure, the secondary structure, is the first level to accommodate for the three-dimensional shape of a protein. The main driving force behind secondary structure is hydrogen bonding, which occurs between the carboxyl oxygen and the amine hydrogen of the backbone of a peptide. Determining a greater link between hydrogen bond patterns and types of secondary structure can provide more insight on how proteins fold.

Because molecular dynamics allows for an atomic level view of the dynamics behind protein folding/unfolding, it becomes very useful in observing the effects of particular hydrogen bond patterns on the folding pathway and final structure formed of a protein. Using molecular dynamic simulations, a series of experiments in an attempt to alter structure, hydrogen bonding, and folding patterns, can be performed. This information can be used to better understand the driving force of secondary structure, and use the knowledge gained to manipulate these simulations to force folding events, and with that, desired secondary structure features.