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Modulation of Folding Internal Friction by Local and Global Barrier Heights

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journal contribution
posted on 07.03.2016, 13:07 by Wenwei Zheng, David de Sancho, Robert B. Best
Recent experiments have revealed an unexpected deviation from a first power dependence of protein relaxation times on solvent viscosity, an effect that has been attributed to “internal friction”. One clear source of internal friction in protein dynamics is the isomerization of dihedral angles. A key outstanding question is whether the global folding barrier height influences the measured internal friction, based on the observation that the folding rates of fast-folding proteins, with smaller folding free energy barriers, tend to exhibit larger internal friction. Here, by studying two alanine-based peptides, we find that systematic variation of global folding barrier heights has little effect on the internal friction for folding rates. On the other hand, increasing local torsion angle barriers leads to increased internal friction, which is consistent with solvent memory effects being the origin of the viscosity dependence. Thus, it appears that local torsion transitions determine the viscosity dependence of the diffusion coefficient on the global coordinate and, in turn, internal friction effects on the folding rate.