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Paper   IPM / Physic / 15235
School of Physics
  Title:   Effect of the geometry of confining media on the stability and folding rate of α-helix proteins
1.  C. Wang
2.  N. Piroozan
3.  L. Javidpour
4.  M. Sahimi
  Status:   Published
  Journal: J. Chem. Phys.
  Vol.:  148
  Year:  2018
  Pages:   194305
  Supported by:  IPM
Protein folding in confined media has attracted wide attention over the past 15 years due to its importance to both in vivo and in vitro applications. It is generally believed that protein stability increases by decreasing the size of the confining medium, if the medium�??s walls are repulsive, and that the maximum folding temperature in confinement is in a pore whose size D0 is only slightly larger than the smallest dimension of a protein�??s folded state. Until recently, the stability of proteins in pores with a size very close to that of the folded state has not received the attention it deserves. In a previous paper [L. Javidpour and M. Sahimi, J. Chem. Phys. 135, 125101 (2011)], we showed that, contrary to the current theoretical predictions, the maximum folding temperature occurs in larger pores for smaller α-helices. Moreover, in very tight pores, the free energy surface becomes rough, giving rise to a new barrier for protein folding close to the unfolded state. In contrast to unbounded domains, in small nanopores proteins with an α-helical native state that contain the β structures are entropically stabilized implying that folding rates decrease notably and that the free energy surface becomes rougher. In view of the potential significance of such results to interpretation of many sets of experimental data that could not be explained by the current theories, particularly the reported anomalously low rates of folding and the importance of entropic effects on proteins�?? misfolded states in highly confined environments, we address the following question in the present paper: To what extent the geometry of a confined medium affects the stability and folding rates of proteins? Using millisecond-long molecular dynamics simulations, we study the problem in three types of confining media, namely, cylindrical and slit pores and spherical cavities. Most importantly, we find that the prediction of the previous theories that the dependence of the maximum folding temperature Tf on the size D of a confined medium occurs in larger media for larger proteins is correct only in spherical geometry, whereas the opposite is true in the two other geometries that we study. Also studied is the effect of the strength of the interaction between the confined media�??s walls and the proteins. If the walls are only weakly or moderately attractive, a complex behavior emerges that depends on the size of the confining medium.

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