Exploring a charge-central strategy in the solution of Poisson's equation for biomolecular applications
Continuum solvent treatments based on the Poisson-Boltzmann equation have been widely accepted for energetic analysis of biomolecular systems. In these approaches, the molecular solute is treated as a low dielectric region and the solvent is treated as a high dielectric continuum. The existence of a sharp dielectric jump at the solute-solvent interface poses a challenge to model the solvation energetics accurately with such a simple mathematical model. In this study, we explored and evaluated a strategy based on the "induced surface charge" to eliminate the dielectric jump within the finite-difference discretization scheme. In addition to the use of the induced surface charges in solving the equation, the second-order accurate immersed interface method is also incorporated to discretize the equation. The resultant linear system is solved with the GMRES algorithm to explicitly impose the flux conservation condition across the solvent-solute interface. The new strategy was evaluated on both analytical and realistic biomolecular systems. The numerical tests demonstrate the feasibility of utilizing induced surface charge in the finite-difference solution of the Poisson-Boltzmann equation. The analysis data further show that the strategy is consistent with theory and the classical finite-difference method on the tested systems. Limitations of the current implementations and further improvements are also analyzed and discussed to fully bring out its potential of achieving higher numerical accuracy.