Luccioli, S. ; Imparato, A. ; Lepri, S. ; Piazza, F. and Torcini, A.
Phys. Biol. 8 (4) 046008
publié le , mis à jour le
We report the results of molecular dynamics simulations of an off-lattice protein model featuring a physical force-field and amino-acid sequence. We show that localized modes of nonlinear origin, discrete breathers (DBs), emerge naturally as continuations of a subset of high-frequency normal modes residing at specific sites dictated by the native fold. DBs are time-periodic, space-localized vibrational modes that exist generically in nonlinear discrete systems and are known for their resilience and ability to concentrate energy for long times. In the case of the small beta-barrel structure that we consider, DB-mediated localization occurs on the turns connecting the strands. At high energies, DBs stabilize the structure by concentrating energy on a few sites, while their collapse marks the onset of large-amplitude fluctuations of the protein. Furthermore, we show how breathers develop as energy-accumulating centres following perturbations even at distant locations, thus mediating efficient and irreversible energy transfers. Remarkably, due to the presence of angular potentials, the breather induces a local static distortion of the native fold. Altogether, the combination of these two nonlinear effects may provide a ready means for remotely controlling local conformational changes in proteins.