Biophysical journal

Confinement-dependent friction in peptide bundles.

PMID 23528088


Friction within globular proteins or between adhering macromolecules crucially determines the kinetics of protein folding, the formation, and the relaxation of self-assembled molecular systems. One fundamental question is how these friction effects depend on the local environment and in particular on the presence of water. In this model study, we use fully atomistic MD simulations with explicit water to obtain friction forces as a single polyglycine peptide chain is pulled out of a bundle of k adhering parallel polyglycine peptide chains. The whole system is periodically replicated along the peptide axes, so a stationary state at prescribed mean sliding velocity V is achieved. The aggregation number is varied between k = 2 (two peptide chains adhering to each other with plenty of water present at the adhesion sites) and k = 7 (one peptide chain pulled out from a close-packed cylindrical array of six neighboring peptide chains with no water inside the bundle). The friction coefficient per hydrogen bond, extrapolated to the viscous limit of vanishing pulling velocity V → 0, exhibits an increase by five orders of magnitude when going from k = 2 to k = 7. This dramatic confinement-induced friction enhancement we argue to be due to a combination of water depletion and increased hydrogen-bond cooperativity.

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Polyglycine, mol wt 500-5,000