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J Phys Chem B. 2018 Dec 13;122(49):11478-11487. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.8b07425. Epub 2018 Oct 2.

Origin of Internal Friction in Disordered Proteins Depends on Solvent Quality.

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College of Integrative Sciences and Arts , Arizona State University , Mesa , Arizona 85212 , United States.
Laboratory of Chemical Physics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases , National Institutes of Health , Bethesda , Maryland 20892-0520 , United States.
Department of Structural Biology , Weizmann Institute of Science , 76100 Rehovot , Israel.


Protein dynamics often exhibit internal friction; i.e., contributions to friction that cannot solely be attributed to the viscosity of the solvent. Remarkably, even unfolded and intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) exhibit this behavior, despite typically being solvent-exposed. Several competing molecular mechanisms have been suggested to underlie this phenomenon, in particular dihedral relaxation and intrachain interactions. It has also recently been shown that single-molecule data reflecting internal friction in the disordered protein ACTR cannot be explained using polymer models unless this friction is dependent on protein collapse. However, the connection between the collapse of the chain and the underlying mechanism of internal friction has been unclear. To address this issue, we combine molecular simulation and single-molecule experimental data to investigate how chain compaction affects protein dynamics in the context of ACTR. Chain reconfiguration times and internal friction estimated from all-atom simulations are in semiquantitative agreement with experimental data. We dissect the underlying molecular mechanism with all-atom and coarse-grained simulations and clearly identify both intrachain interactions and dihedral angle transitions as contributions to internal friction. However, their relative contribution is strongly dependent on the compactness of the IDP; while dihedral relaxation dominates internal friction in expanded configurations, intrachain interactions dominate for more compact chains. Our results thus imply a continuous transition between mechanisms and provide a link between internal friction in IDPs and that in more compact and folded states of proteins.


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