Molecular dynamics (MD) and normal mode analysis (NMA) are very useful methods for characterizing various dynamic aspects of biological macromolecules. In comparison to MD, NMA is computationally less expensive which facilitates the quick and systematic investigation of protein flexibility and dynamics even for large proteins and protein complexes, whose structure was obtained experimentally or in silico. In particular, NMA can be used to describe the flexible states adopted by a protein around an equilibrium position. These states have been repeatedly shown to have biological relevance and functional significance. This chapter briefly characterizes NMA and describes the elastic network model, a schematic model of protein shape used to decrease the computational cost of this method. Finally, we will describe the applications of this technique to several large proteins and their complexes as well as its use in enhancing protein homology modeling.
Part of the book: Homology Molecular Modeling