Gas-Phase Protein Structure Under the Computational Microscope Hydration, Titration, and Temperature
Sammanfattning: Although the native environment of the vast majority of proteins is a complex aqueous solution, like the interior of a cell, many analysis methods for assessing chemical and physical properties of biomolecules require the sample to be aerosolized; that is, transferred to the gas-phase. An important example is electrospray-ionization mass spectrometry, which can provide a wide range of information about e.g. biomolecules. That includes structural features, charged sites, and gas-phase equilibrium constants of reactions. To date much of the microscopic detail about the aerosolization process remains beyond the limits of experimental observation. How is the gas-phase structure of a protein related to the solution-phase structure? How transferable are observations done in the gas phase to solution? On the basis of classical molecular-dynamics simulations this thesis reveals important features of gas-phase biomolecular structure near the end of the the aerosolization process, the relation between gas-phase structure and native structure, microscopic detail about the de-wetting of gas-phase biomolecules, and the impact of temperature and residual solvent on structure preservation. Residual solvent on proteins is shown to have a stabilizing effect on proteins, in part because it allows the scarcely hydrated protein to cool through solvent evaporation, but also because part of the solvent provides structural support by hydrogen bonding to the protein. The gas-phase structure of micellar aggregates is seen to depend on composition, where some types of lipids cause rapid micelle inversion, whereas others maintain much of their collective structure when transferred to the gas phase. The thesis also addresses proton-transfer reactions, which have an impact on the biophysical aspects of proteins, both in the gas phase and in solution. The thesis presents a computationally efficient method for including proton-transfer reactions in classical molecular-dynamics simulations, which expands the range of scientific problems that can be addressed with molecular dynamics.
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