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Issue 2, 2015
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The roughness of the protein energy landscape results in anomalous diffusion of the polypeptide backbone

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Abstract

Although protein folding is often described by motion on a funnel-shaped overall topology of the energy landscape, the many local interactions that can occur result in considerable landscape roughness which slows folding by increasing internal friction. Recent experimental results have brought to light that this roughness also causes unusual diffusional behaviour of the backbone of an unfolded protein, i.e. the relative motion of protein sections cannot be described by the normal diffusion equation, but shows strongly subdiffusional behaviour with a nonlinear time dependence of the mean square displacement, 〈r2(t)〉 ∝ tα (α ≪ 1). This results in significantly slower configurational equilibration than had been assumed hitherto. Analysis of the results also allows quantification of the energy landscape roughness, i.e. the root-mean-squared depth of local minima, yielding a value of 4–5kBT for a typical small protein.

Graphical abstract: The roughness of the protein energy landscape results in anomalous diffusion of the polypeptide backbone

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Publication details

The article was received on 11 Jul 2014, accepted on 05 Nov 2014 and first published on 07 Nov 2014


Article type: Perspective
DOI: 10.1039/C4CP03058C
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2015,17, 762-782
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    The roughness of the protein energy landscape results in anomalous diffusion of the polypeptide backbone

    M. Volk, L. Milanesi, J. P. Waltho, C. A. Hunter and G. S. Beddard, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2015, 17, 762
    DOI: 10.1039/C4CP03058C

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