Lennard-Jones type pair-potential method for coarse-grained lipid bilayer membrane simulations in LAMMPS
Lipid bilayer membranes have been extensively studied by coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations. Numerical efficiencies have been reported in the cases of aggressive coarse-graining, where several lipids are coarse-grained into a particle of size 4∼6 nm so that there is only one particle in the thickness direction. Yuan et al. proposed a pair-potential between these one-particle-thick coarse-grained lipid particles to capture the mechanical properties of a lipid bilayer membrane, such as gel-fluid-gas phase transitions of lipids, diffusion, and bending rigidity Yuan et al. (2010). In this work we implement such an interaction potential in LAMMPS to simulate large-scale lipid systems such as a giant unilamminar vesicle (GUV) and red blood cells (RBCs). We also consider the effect of cytoskeleton on the lipid membrane dynamics as a model for RBC dynamics, and incorporate coarse-grained water molecules to account for hydrodynamic interactions. The interaction between the coarse-grained water molecules (explicit solvent molecules) is modeled as a Lennard-Jones (L-J) potential. To demonstrate that the proposed methods do capture the observed dynamics of vesicles and RBCs, we focus on two sets of LAMMPS simulations: 1. Vesicle shape transitions with enclosed volume; 2. RBC shape transitions with different enclosed volume. Finally utilizing the parallel computing capability in LAMMPS, we provide some timing results for parallel coarse-grained simulations to illustrate that it is possible to use LAMMPS to simulate large-scale realistic complex biological membranes for more than 1 ms.