The experimental determination of protein compressibility reflects both the protein intrinsic compressibility and the difference between the compressibility of water in the protein hydration shell and bulk water. We use molecular dynamics simulations to explore the dependence of the isothermal compressibility of the hydration shell surrounding globular proteins on differential contributions from charged, polar, and apolar protein-water interfaces. The compressibility of water in the protein hydration shell is accounted for by a linear combination of contributions from charged, polar, and apolar solvent-accessible surfaces. The results provide a formula for the deconvolution of experimental data into intrinsic and hydration contributions when a protein of known structure is investigated. The physical basis for the model is the variation in water density shown by the surface-specific radial distribution functions of water molecules around globular proteins. The compressibility of water hydrating charged atoms is lower than bulk water compressibility, the compressibility of water hydrating apolar atoms is somewhat larger than bulk water compressibility, and the compressibility of water around polar atoms is about the same as the compressibility of bulk water. We also assess whether hydration water compressibility determined from small compound data can be used to estimate the compressibility of hydration water surrounding proteins. The results, based on an analysis from four dipeptide solutions, indicate that small compound data cannot be used directly to estimate the compressibility of hydration water surrounding proteins. © 2006 by the Biophysical Society.
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