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Phys Rev Lett. 2017 Feb 24;118(8):088101. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.088101. Epub 2017 Feb 21.

Distinguishing Signatures of Multipathway Conformational Transitions.

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1
Department of Physics, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.

Abstract

The folding and binding of biomolecules into functional conformations are thought to be commonly mediated by multiple pathways rather than a unique route. Yet even in experiments where one can "see" individual conformational transitions, their stochastic nature generally precludes one from determining whether the transitions occurred through one or multiple pathways. We establish model-free, observable signatures in the response of macromolecules to force that unambiguously identify multiple pathways-even when the pathways themselves cannot be resolved. The unified analytical description reveals that, through multiple pathways, the response of molecules to external forces can be shaped in diverse ways, resulting in a rich design space for a tailored biological function already at the single-molecule level.

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