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J Chem Phys. 2011 Mar 28;134(12):125103. doi: 10.1063/1.3565457.

Monte Carlo study of the molecular mechanisms of surface-layer protein self-assembly.

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Department for Nanobiotechnology, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, 1190 Vienna, Austria.


The molecular mechanisms guiding the self-assembly of proteins into functional or pathogenic large-scale structures can be only understood by studying the correlation between the structural details of the monomer and the eventual mesoscopic morphologies. Among the myriad structural details of protein monomers and their manifestations in the self-assembled morphologies, we seek to identify the most crucial set of structural features necessary for the spontaneous selection of desired morphologies. Using a combination of the structural information and a Monte Carlo method with a coarse-grained model, we have studied the functional protein self-assembly into S(surface)-layers, which constitute the crystallized outer most cell envelope of a great variety of bacterial cells. We discover that only few and mainly hydrophobic amino acids, located on the surface of the monomer, are responsible for the formation of a highly ordered anisotropic protein lattice. The coarse-grained model presented here reproduces accurately many experimentally observed features including the pore formation, chemical description of the pore structure, location of specific amino acid residues at the protein-protein interfaces, and surface accessibility of specific amino acid residues. In addition to elucidating the molecular mechanisms and explaining experimental findings in the S-layer assembly, the present work offers a tool, which is chemical enough to capture details of primary sequences and coarse-grained enough to explore morphological structures with thousands of protein monomers, to promulgate design rules for spontaneous formation of specific protein assemblies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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