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Issue 36, 2012
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Conformational collapse of surface-bound helical filaments

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Chiral polymers are ubiquitous in nature and in the cellular context they are often found in association with membranes. Here we show that surface bound polymers with an intrinsic twist and anisotropic bending stiffness can exhibit a sharp continuous phase transition between states with very different effective persistence lengths as the binding affinity is increased. Above a critical value of the binding strength, determined solely by the torsional modulus and intrinsic twist rate, the filament can exist in a zero twist, surface bound state with a homogeneous stiffness. Below the critical binding strength, twist walls proliferate and function as weak or floppy joints that sharply reduce the effective persistence length that is measurable on long length scales. The existence of such dramatically different conformational states has implications for both biopolymer function in vivo and for experimental observations of such filaments in vitro.

Graphical abstract: Conformational collapse of surface-bound helical filaments

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Article information

05 Apr 2012
21 Jun 2012
First published
17 Jul 2012

Soft Matter, 2012,8, 9460-9468
Article type

Conformational collapse of surface-bound helical filaments

D. A. Quint, A. Gopinathan and G. M. Grason, Soft Matter, 2012, 8, 9460
DOI: 10.1039/C2SM25798J

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