Simulation Best Practices for Lipid Membranes [Article v1.0]
We establish a reliable and robust standardization of settings for practical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of pure and mixed (single- and multi-component) lipid bilayer membranes. In lipid membranes research, particle-based molecular simulations are a powerful tool alongside continuum theory, lipidomics, and model, in vitro, and in vivo experiments. Molecular simulations can provide precise and reproducible spatiotemporal (atomic- and femtosecond-level) information about membrane structure, mechanics, thermodynamics, kinetics, and dynamics. Yet the simulation of lipid membranes can be a daunting task, given the uniqueness of lipid membranes relative to conventional liquid-liquid and solid-liquid interfaces, the immense and complex thermodynamic and statistical mechanical theory, the diversity of multiscale lipid models, limitations of modern computing power, the difficulty and ambiguity of simulation controls, finite size effects, competitive continuum simulation alternatives, and the desired application, including vesicle experiments and biological membranes. These issues can complicate an essential understanding of the field of lipid membranes, and create major bottlenecks to simulation advancement. In this article, we clarify these issues and present a consistent, thorough, and user-friendly framework for the design of state-of-the-art lipid membrane MD simulations. We hope to allow early-career researchers to quickly overcome common obstacles in the field of lipid membranes and reach maximal impact in their simulations.
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