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Soft Matter. 2011 Apr 7;7(7):3373-3382.

A molecular dynamics study of the interprotein interactions in collagen fibrils.

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1
Department of Chemistry, University College London, 20 Gordon Street, London, United Kingdom WC1H 0AJ ; Insitute of Orthopaedics & Musculoskeletal Science, University College London, Brockley Hill, Stanmore, United Kingdom HA7 4LP.

Abstract

Molecular dynamics simulations of collagen are used to investigate at the atomistic level the nature of the interprotein interactions that are present within a collagen fibril, and which are responsible for the fibril's thermodynamic stability. Simulations both of a collagen fibril and of a fully solvated tropcollagen are compared in order to study the interactions that arise between the proteins upon the process of fibrillogenesis. The interactions studied include direct interprotein hydrogen bonds, water-mediated interprotein hydrogen bonds, and hydrophobic interactions. The simulations are used to quantify the number of interprotein interactions that form; to study which functional groups contribute most towards the interactions; and to study the spatial distribution of interprotein interactions throughout the fibril's D period. The processes of collagen fibrillogenesis and protein folding are then compared with each other, because these two physical processes share many similarities in concept, and the latter has been more widely studied. Molecular dynamics simulations of a bacteriophage T4 lysozyme protein, both in its native state and in and unfolded state, are used as an illustrative example of a typical protein folding process, for direct comparison with the collagen simulations.

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