Molecular simulation is a very powerful toolbox in modern molecular modeling, and enables us to follow and understand structure and dynamics with extreme detail--literally on scales where motion of individual atoms can be tracked. This chapter focuses on the two most commonly used methods, namely, energy minimization and molecular dynamics, that, respectively, optimize structure and simulate the natural motion of biological macromolecules. The common theoretical framework based on statistical mechanics is covered briefly as well as limitations of the computational approach, for instance, the lack of quantum effects and limited timescales accessible. As a practical example, a full simulation of the protein lysozyme in water is described step by step, including examples of necessary hardware and software, how to obtain suitable starting molecular structures, immersing it in a solvent, choosing good simulation parameters, and energy minimization. The chapter also describes how to analyze the simulation in terms of potential energies, structural fluctuations, coordinate stability, geometrical features, and, finally, how to create beautiful ray-traced movies that can be used in presentations.
2008. Vol. 443, 3-23 p.