Format of Original
American Institute of Physics
Journal of Chemical Physics
Original Item ID
DOI: 10.1063/1.4932105, PubMed Central: PMID26450287
Atom-centered point charge (PC) model of the molecular electrostatics-a major workhorse of the atomistic biomolecular simulations-is usually parameterized by least-squares (LS) fitting of the point charge values to a reference electrostatic potential, a procedure that suffers from numerical instabilities due to the ill-conditioned nature of the LS problem. To reveal the origins of this ill-conditioning, we start with a general treatment of the point charge fitting problem as an inverse problem and construct an analytical model with the point charges spherically arranged according to Lebedev quadrature which is naturally suited for the inverse electrostatic problem. This analytical model is contrasted to the atom-centered point-charge model that can be viewed as an irregular quadrature poorly suited for the problem. This analysis shows that the numerical problems of the point charge fitting are due to the decay of the curvatures corresponding to the eigenvectors of LS sum Hessian matrix. In part, this ill-conditioning is intrinsic to the problem and is related to decreasing electrostatic contribution of the higher multipole moments, that are, in the case of Lebedev grid model, directly associated with the Hessian eigenvectors. For the atom-centered model, this association breaks down beyond the first few eigenvectors related to the high-curvature monopole and dipole terms; this leads to even wider spread-out of the Hessian curvature values. Using these insights, it is possible to alleviate the ill-conditioning of the LS point-charge fitting without introducing external restraints and/or constraints. Also, as the analytical Lebedev grid PC model proposed here can reproduce multipole moments up to a given rank, it may provide a promising alternative to including explicit multipole terms in a force field.