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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Electrostatic forces in the Poisson-Boltzmann systems.

  • Author(s): Xiao, Li
  • Cai, Qin
  • Ye, Xiang
  • Wang, Jun
  • Luo, Ray
  • et al.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Continuum modeling of electrostatic interactions based upon numerical solutions of the Poisson-Boltzmann equation has been widely used in structural and functional analyses of biomolecules. A limitation of the numerical strategies is that it is conceptually difficult to incorporate these types of models into molecular mechanics simulations, mainly because of the issue in assigning atomic forces. In this theoretical study, we first derived the Maxwell stress tensor for molecular systems obeying the full nonlinear Poisson-Boltzmann equation. We further derived formulations of analytical electrostatic forces given the Maxwell stress tensor and discussed the relations of the formulations with those published in the literature. We showed that the formulations derived from the Maxwell stress tensor require a weaker condition for its validity, applicable to nonlinear Poisson-Boltzmann systems with a finite number of singularities such as atomic point charges and the existence of discontinuous dielectric as in the widely used classical piece-wise constant dielectric models.

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