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Coiled-coil response to mechanical force: global stability and local cracking

, : Coiled-coil response to mechanical force: global stability and local cracking. Biophysical Journal 105(4): 951-961

Coiled coils are important structural motifs formed by two or more amphipathic α-helices that twist into a supercoil. These motifs are found in a wide range of proteins, including motor proteins and structural proteins, that are known to transmit mechanical loads. We analyze atomically detailed simulations of coiled-coil cracking under load with Milestoning. Milestoning is an approach that captures the main features of the process in a network, quantifying kinetics and thermodynamics. A 112-residue segment of the β-myosin S2 domain was subjected to constant-magnitude (0-200 pN) and constant-direction tensile forces in molecular dynamics simulations. Twenty 20 ns straightforward simulations at several load levels revealed that initial single-residue cracking events (Ψ > 90°) at loads <100 pN were accompanied by rapid refolding without either intra- or interhelix unfolding propagation. Only initial unfolding events at the highest load (200 pN) regularly propagated along and between helices. Analysis of hydrophobic interactions and of interhelix hydrogen bonds did not show significant variation as a function of load. Unfolding events were overwhelmingly located in the vicinity of E929, a charged residue in a hydrophobic position of the heptad repeat. Milestoning network analysis of E929 cracking determined that the mean first-passage time ranges from 20 ns (200 pN) to 80 ns (50 pN), which is ∼20 times the mean first-passage time of an isolated helix with the same sequence.


PMID: 23972847

DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2013.05.064

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