How Fast Does a Signal Propagate through ProteinsReport as inadecuate

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As the molecular basis of signal propagation in the cell, proteins are regulated by perturbations, such as mechanical forces or ligand binding. The question arises how fast such a signal propagates through the protein molecular scaffold. As a first step, we have investigated numerically the dynamics of force propagation through a single Ala protein following a sudden increase in the stretching forces applied to its end termini. The force propagates along the backbone into the center of the chain on the picosecond scale. Both conformational and tension dynamics are found in good agreement with a coarse-grained theory of force propagation through semiflexible polymers. The speed of force propagation of 50Å ps−1 derived from these simulations is likely to determine an upper speed limit of mechanical signal transfer in allosteric proteins or molecular machines.

Author: Hui T. Young, Scott A. Edwards, Frauke Gräter



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