Super-helical filaments at surfaces: dynamics and elastic responses†
Bio-filaments often behave in a way unexpected from the standard semi-flexible polymer chain model (WLC), when squeezed to a surface, confined in microfluidic channels or clamped by their end. This calls for the super-helical filament model, going beyond WLC, where the filament forms a helix much wider than its diameter. We study this model using Brownian dynamics simulations, focusing on filaments confined to a surface by a strong potential. We analyze shapes and shape fluctuations under tension where excited states comprising a number of inflection points (twist-kink) can be stabilized. Pulling/releasing experiments during a cycle of increasing/decreasing tension show hysteresis. We find that the excited state, once established, is long-lived and the life time grows with the filament length cubed. Twist-kink diffusion involves position (filament shape) dependent friction for which we provide analytical expression. Dynamic responses to tension are investigated via numerical simulations and several mechanisms of shape relaxation are found and rationalized.