Kinetic mechanisms of crumpled globule formation†
A homopolymer chain with beads forming pairwise reversible bonds is a well-known model in polymer physics. We studied the kinetics of homopolymer chain collapse, which was induced by pairwise reversible bond formation. We compared the kinetic mechanism of this coil–globule transition with the mechanism of collapse in a poor solvent. We discovered that if collapse of a spatially confined chain is induced by formation of long-living pairwise reversible bonds, the transient structures do not resemble classical pearl-necklace conformations formed during collapse in a poor solvent. However, both types of collapse lead to formation of a metastable state of a crumpled globule, which is one of the well-known models of interphase chromatin structure in different organisms. Moreover, we found that the stability and dynamics of this state can be controlled by the fraction of reversible bonds and bond lifetime.