Launching of Davydov solitons in protein $\alpha$-helix spines

29 Jun 2020  ·  Georgiev Danko D., Glazebrook James F. ·

Biological order provided by $\alpha$-helical secondary protein structures is an important resource exploitable by living organisms for increasing the efficiency of energy transport. In particular, self-trapping of amide I energy quanta by the induced phonon deformation of the hydrogen-bonded lattice of peptide groups is capable of generating either pinned or moving solitary waves following the Davydov quasiparticle/soliton model... The effect of applied in-phase Gaussian pulses of amide I energy, however, was found to be strongly dependent on the site of application. Moving solitons were only launched when the amide I energy was applied at one of the $\alpha$-helix ends, whereas pinned solitons were produced in the $\alpha$-helix interior. In this paper, we describe a general mechanism that launches moving solitons in the interior of the $\alpha$-helix through phase-modulated Gaussian pulses of amide I energy. We also compare the predicted soliton velocity based on effective soliton mass and the observed soliton velocity in computer simulations for different parameter values of the isotropy of the exciton-phonon interaction. The presented results demonstrate the capacity for explicit control of soliton velocity in protein $\alpha$-helices, and further support the plausibility of gradual optimization of quantum dynamics for achieving specialized protein functions through natural selection. read more

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Pattern Formation and Solitons Biological Physics