Soft {Vibrational} {Modes} {Predict} {Breaking} {Events} during {Force}-{Induced} {Protein} {Unfolding}

Publication Type
Journal Article
Year of Publication
Habibi, Mona
Plotkin, Steven S.
Rottler, Jörg
Name of Publication
Biophysical Journal

We investigate the correlation between soft vibrational modes and unfolding events in simulated force spectroscopy of proteins. Unfolding trajectories are obtained from molecular dynamics simulations of a Gō model of a monomer of a mutant of superoxide dismutase 1 protein containing all heavy atoms in the protein, and a normal mode analysis is performed based on the anisotropic network model. We show that a softness map constructed from the superposition of the amplitudes of localized soft modes correlates with unfolding events at different stages of the unfolding process. Soft residues are up to eight times more likely to undergo disruption of native structure than the average amino acid. The memory of the softness map is retained for extensions of up to several nanometers, but decorrelates more rapidly during force drops.