Volume 51, Number 3, August I 2000
|Page(s)||279 - 285|
|Section||Atomic and molecular physics|
|Published online||01 September 2002|
Dynamical intermediates in the collapse of semiflexible polymers in poor solvents
Department of Physics & Biophysics Research Division,
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1120, USA
2 Institute of Advanced Studies, Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering The Australian National University - Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
3 School of Chemistry, University of Sydney - NSW 2006, Australia
Accepted: 5 June 2000
We investigate, by a Brownian Dynamics (BD) simulation, the collapse of a single, semiflexible or stiff polymer in solution, in the presence of short-range, attractive interactions. In contrast to the mechanism for flexible chains, our results suggest that the collapse occurs via a series of long-lived, metastable intermediates. These intermediates form a well-defined, hierarchical family of conformations. Experiments with DNA condensation have shown similar shapes, which were described as “tennis racquets”. In addition to our primary observation concerning the collapse pathways of stiff filaments, we note that, in the absence of fluctuations (upon annealing), the shape of these intermediates can be calculated exactly in certain limits, and is given by a particular case of Euler's elastica. This shape is unique up to an overall scale factor determined by the parameters for bending stiffness and short-range attraction.
PACS: 36.20.Ey – Conformation (statistics and dynamics) / 87.15.He – Dynamics and conformational changes / 87.15.-v – Biomolecules: structure and physical properties
© EDP Sciences, 2000
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