Title Visualizing protein motion in Couette flow by all-atom molecular dynamics
Date 01.01.2020
Number 55383
Abstract In living cells, biomacromolecules are exposed to a highly crowded environment. The cytoplasm, the nucleus, and other organelles are highly viscous fluids that differ from dilute in vitro conditions. Viscosity, a measure of fluid internal friction, directly affects the forces that act on immersed macromolecules. Although active motion of this viscous fluid – cytoplasmic streaming – occurs in many plant and animal cells, the effect of fluid motion (flow) on biomolecules is rarely discussed. Recently NMR experiments that apply a shearing flow in situ have been used for protein studies. While these NMR experiments have succeeded in spectroscopically tracking protein aggregation in real time, they do not provide a visual picture of protein motion under shear. To fill this gap, here we have used molecular dynamics simulations to study the motion of three proteins of different size and shape in a simple shearing flow. The proteins exhibit a superposition of random diffusion and shear-flow-induced rotational motion. Random rotational diffusion dominates at lower shear stresses, whereas an active “rolling motion” along the axis of the applied flow occurs at higher shear stress. Even larger shear stresses perturb protein secondary structure elements resulting in local and global unfolding. Apart from shear-induced unfolding, our results imply that, in an ideal Couette flow field biomolecules undergo correlated motion, which should enhance the probability of inter-molecular interaction and aggregation. Connecting biomolecular simulation with experiments applying shear flow in situ appears to be a promising strategy to study protein alignment, deformation, and dynamics under shear.
Publisher Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects
Citation Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects 1864 (2020) 129383
Authors Walinda, E. ; Morimoto, D. ; Scheler, U. ; Sugase, K.

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