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Krishnan, M. (2017)
Publisher: AIP Publishing LLC
Journal: The Journal of Chemical Physics
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: Biological Molecules and Networks, ARTICLES

Classified by OpenAIRE into

arxiv: Quantitative Biology::Biomolecules
We present a model for calculating the net and effective electrical charge of globular macromolecules and linear polyelectrolytes such as proteins and DNA, given the concentration of monovalent salt and pH in solution. The calculation is based on a numerical solution of the non-linear Poisson-Boltzmann equation using a finite element discretized continuum approach. The model simultaneously addresses the phenomena of charge regulation and renormalization, both of which underpin the electrostatics of biomolecules in solution. We show that while charge regulation addresses the true electrical charge of a molecule arising from the acid-base equilibria of its ionizable groups, charge renormalization finds relevance in the context of a molecule?s interaction with another charged entity. Writing this electrostatic interaction free energy in terms of a local electrical potential, we obtain an ?interaction charge? for the molecule which we demonstrate agrees closely with the ?effective charge? discussed in charge renormalization and counterion-condensation theories. The predictions of this model agree well with direct high-precision measurements of effective electrical charge of polyelectrolytes such as nucleic acids and disordered proteins in solution, without tunable parameters. Including the effective interior dielectric constant for compactly folded molecules as a tunable parameter, the model captures measurements of effective charge as well as published trends of p K a shifts in globular proteins. Our results suggest a straightforward general framework to model electrostatics in biomolecules in solution. In offering a platform that directly links theory and experiment, these calculations could foster a systematic understanding of the interrelationship between molecular 3D structure and conformation, electrical charge and electrostatic interactions in solution. The model could find particular relevance in situations where molecular crystal structures are not available or rapid, reliable predictions are desired.

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