Conceptual DFT for systematic modeling

Multi-scale quantum-mechanical/molecular-mechanical (QM/MM) and large-scale QM simulation provide valuable insight into enzyme mechanism and structure-property relationships. Analysis of the electron density afforded through these methods can enhance our understanding of how the enzyme environment modulates reactivity at the enzyme active site. From this perspective, tools from conceptual density functional theory to interrogate electron densities can provide added insight into enzyme function. We recently introduced the highly parallelizable Fukui shift analysis (FSA) method (Karelina and Kulik JCTC 2017), which identifies how frontier states of an active site are altered by the presence of an additional QM residue to identify when QM treatment of a residue is essential as a result of quantum-mechanically affecting the behavior of the active site. We now demonstrate and analyze distance and residue dependence of Fukui function shifts in pairs of residues representing different non-covalent interactions. We also show how the interpretation of the Fukui function as a measure of relative nucleophilicity provides insight into enzymes that carry out SN2 methyl transfer. The FSA method represents a promising approach for the systematic, unbiased determination of quantum mechanical effects in enzymes and for other complex systems that necessitate multi-scale modeling.


This work is summarized in a recent invited article in conceptual density functional theory, edited by Shubin Liu. Check it out here!

About Us

The Kulik group focuses on the development and application of new electronic structure methods and atomistic simulations tools in the broad area of catalysis.

Our Interests

We are interested in transition metal chemistry, with applications from biological systems (i.e. enzymes) to nonbiological applications in surface science and molecular catalysis.

Our Focus

A key focus of our group is to understand mechanistic features of complex catalysts and to facilitate and develop tools for computationally driven design.

Contact Us

Questions or comments? Let us know! Contact Dr. Kulik: