The Laboratoire International Associé between the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was launched at the end of 2012. Its primary objective is to develop methods for high-performance molecular simulation with the aim of understanding the function of complex biological assemblies, transcending the frontiers of traditional disciplines by uniting mathematicians, physicists, theoretical chemists and biologists on both sides of the Atlantic. In France, the major contributors are located at the Université de Lorraine, the École des Ponts ParisTech, the Institut de Biologie et Chimie des Protéines-Université Claude Bernard and the Laboratoire d'Ingénierie des Systèmes Macromoléculaires-Université d'Aix-Marseille. In the United States, the contributors belong to the NIH Resource for Macromolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics. In Nancy, the partner is a theoretical chemistry and biophysics group incepted in 2003. Its expertise lies in describing the structure and the dynamic properties of the biological membrane and elucidating the mechanisms of the cell machinery. To attain this goal, its members leverage numerical simulations over size and timescales commensurate with the biological process at hand. Over the years, the team has gleaned milestone results in such diverse research areas as membrane transport, interaction with the biological membrane, membrane protein structure and function, as well as self-organized molecular systems. They also develop original approaches in the field of free-energy calculations, as well as that of intermolecular potentials.
The true nature of rotary movements in rotaxanes. Disentangling the different movements observed in rotaxanes is critical to characterize their function as molecular and biological motors. How to achieve unidirectional rotation is an important question for successful construction of a highly efficient molecular motor. The motions within a rotaxane composed of a benzylic amide ring threaded on a fumaramide moiety were investigated employing atomistic molecular dynamics simulations. The free-energy profiles describing the rotational process of the ring about the thread were determined from multi-microsecond simulations. Comparing the theoretical freeenergy barriers with their experimental counterpart, the syn–anti isomerization of the amide bond within the ring was ruled out. The free-energy barriers arise in fact from the disruption of hydrogen bonds between the ring and the thread. Transition path analysis reveals that complete description of the reaction coordinate requires another collective variable. The free-energy landscape spanned by the two variables characterizing the coupled rotational and shuttling processes of the ring in the rotaxane was mapped. The calculated free-energy barrier, amounting to 9.3 kcal mol-1, agrees well with experiment. Further analysis shows that shuttling is coupled with the isomerization of the ring, which is not limited to a simplistic chair-to-chair transition. This work provides a cogent example that contrary to chemical intuition, molecular motion can result from complex, entangled movements requiring for their accurate description careful modeling of the underlying reaction coordinate. The methodology described here can be used to evaluate the different components of the multifaceted motion in rotaxanes, and constitutes a robust tool for the rational design of molecular machines. Chemical Sciences, 2016.
Correlation of bistranded clustered abasic DNA lesion processing with structural and dynamic DNA helix distortion.
Nucleic Acids Res.
2016, (44), 8588-8599.
Wang, S.; Zhao, T.; Shao, X.; Chipot, C.; Cai, W.
Complex movements in rotaxanes: Shuttling coupled with conformational transition of cyclodextrins
J. Phys. Chem. C
2016, (120), 19479-19486.
Gattuso, H.; Durand, E.; Bignon, E.; Morell, C.; Georgakilas, A. G.; Dumont, E.; Chipot, C.; Dehez, F.; Monari, A.
Repair rate of clustered abasic DNA lesions by human endonuclease: Molecular bases of sequence specificity
J. Phys. Chem. Lett
2016, (19), 3760-3765.