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Orientation before destruction. A multiscale molecular dynamics study
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Materials Theory.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Materials Theory.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1482-2182
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The emergence of ultra-fast X-ray free-electron lasers opens the possibility of imaging single molecules in the gas phase at atomic resolution. The main disadvantage of this imaging technique is the unknown orientation of the sample exposed to the X-ray beam, making the three-dimensional reconstruction not trivial. The induced orientation of molecules prior to X-ray exposure can be highly beneficial, as it significantly reduces the number of collected diffraction patterns whilst improving the quality of the reconstructed structure. We present here the possibility of protein orientation using a time-dependent external electric field. We used ab initio simulations on Trp-cage protein to provide a qualitative estimation of the field strength required to break protein bonds, with 45 V/nm as a breaking point value. Furthermore, we simulated, in a classical molecular dynamics approach, the orientation of ubiquitin protein by exposing it to different time-dependent electric fields. The protein structure was preserved for all samples at the moment orientation was achieved, which we denote `orientation before destruction'. Moreover, we find that the minimal field strength required to induce orientation within ten ns of electric field exposure was of the order of 0.5 V/nm. Our results help explain the process of field orientation of proteins and can support the design of instruments for protein orientation.

National Category
Biophysics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-434280OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-434280DiVA, id: diva2:1526387
Available from: 2021-02-08 Created: 2021-02-08 Last updated: 2021-02-08
In thesis
1. Polymer and Protein Physics: Simulations of Interactions and Dynamics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Polymer and Protein Physics: Simulations of Interactions and Dynamics
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Proteins can, without any exaggeration, be called the "building blocks of life". Their physical properties depend not only on the chemical structure but also on their geometric shape. In this thesis, I investigate protein geometry using several different methods.

We start with a coarse-graining model to study the general behavior of polymers. For this reason, we utilize an effective Hamiltonian that can describe the thermodynamic properties of polymer chains and reproduce secondary and tertiary structures. To investigate this model, I perform classical Monte Carlo simulations using my software package.

Another problem we address in this thesis is how to distinguish thermodynamic phases of proteins. The conventional definition of phases of polymer systems uses scaling laws. However, this method needs the chain's length to be varied, which is impossible to do with heteropolymers where the number of sites is one of the system's characteristics. We will apply renormalization group (RG) theory ideas to overcome this difficulty. We present a scaling procedure and an observable through which RG flow can define a certain polymer chain's phase.

Another part of the thesis is dedicated to the method of molecular dynamics. Our focus is on a novel experimental technique called Single Particle Imaging (SPI). The spatial orientation of the sample in this method is arbitrary. Scientists proposed to use a strong electric field to fix the orientation since most biological molecules have a non-zero dipole moment. Motivated by this, we investigate the influence of a strong electric field's ramping on the orientation of protein ubiquitin. For the same question of SPI and using the same protein, we study the reproducibility of unfolding it in a strong electric field. With the help of a new graph representation, I show different unfolding pathways as a function of the electric field's value and compare them with thermal and mechanical unfolding. I show that the RG flow observable can also detect the different ubiquitin unfolding pathways more simply.

The study described in this thesis has two types of results. One is a very concrete type, which can be utilized right away in the SPI experiments, like MS SPIDOC on the European XFEL. The other type of results are more theoretical and opens up a new field for further research. However, all of them contribute to protein science, an area vital for humanity's ability to protect us from threats such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2021. p. 126
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 2015
Keywords
polymers, proteins, Monte Carlo, molecular dynamics, phase diagram, renormalisation group, SPI, polymer effective model, coarse-graining
National Category
Biophysics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Biophysics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-434275 (URN)978-91-513-1139-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2021-03-26, Polhemsalen, Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1, Uppsala, 13:30 (English)
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Supervisors
Available from: 2021-03-04 Created: 2021-02-08 Last updated: 2021-03-29

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Sinelnikova, AnnaMandl, ThomasGrånäs, OscarMarklund, ErikCaleman, Carl

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