Europhys. Lett.
Volume 68, Number 4, November 2004
Page(s) 589 - 595
Section Interdisciplinary physics and related areas of science and technology
Published online 20 October 2004
Europhys. Lett., 68 (4), pp. 589-595 (2004)
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2004-10249-7

A model for the accidental catalysis of protein unfolding in vivo

R. P. Sear

Department of Physics, University of Surrey - Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK

received 13 May 2004; accepted in final form 28 September 2004
published online 20 October 2004

Activated processes such as protein unfolding are highly sensitive to heterogeneity in the environment. We study a highly simplified model of a protein in a random heterogeneous environment, a model of the in vivo environment. It is found that if the heterogeneity is sufficiently large, the total rate of the process is essentially a random variable; this may be the cause of the species-to-species variability in the rate of prion protein conversion found by Deleault et al. (Nature 425 (2003) 717).

87.15.Nn - Properties of solutions; aggregation and crystallization of macromolecules.
87.14.Ee - Proteins.
87.15.He - Dynamics and conformational changes.

© EDP Sciences 2004