Launching of Davydov solitons in protein α-helix spines

Physica E: Low-Dimensional Systems and Nanostructures 124:114332 (2020)
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Biological order provided by α-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 α-helix ends, whereas pinned solitons were produced in the α-helix interior. In this paper, we describe a general mechanism that launches moving solitons in the interior of the α-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 α-helices, and further support the plausibility of gradual optimization of quantum dynamics for achieving specialized protein functions through natural selection.

Author's Profile

Danko D. Georgiev
Institute For Advanced Study, Varna


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