Infoscience

Journal article

Long-range energy transfer in proteins

Proteins are large and complex molecular machines. In order to perform their function, most of them need energy, e. g. either in the form of a photon, as in the case of the visual pigment rhodopsin, or through the breaking of a chemical bond, as in the presence of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Such energy, in turn, has to be transmitted to specific locations, often several tens of A away from where it is initially released. Here we show, within the framework of a coarse-grained nonlinear network model, that energy in a protein can jump from site to site with high yields, covering in many instances remarkably large distances. Following single-site excitations, few specific sites are targeted, systematically within the stiffest regions. Such energy transfers mark the spontaneous formation of a localized mode of nonlinear origin at the destination site, which acts as an efficient energy-accumulating center. Interestingly, yields are found to be optimum for excitation energies in the range of biologically relevant ones.

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