Nanomechanics of actin filament: A molecular dynamics simulation
Shamloo, A - Mehrafrooz, B
Actin is known as the most abundant essentially protein in eukaryotic cells. Actin plays a crucial role in many cellular processes involving mechanical forces such as cell motility, adhesion, muscle contraction, and intracellular transport. However, little is known about the mechanical properties of this protein when subjected to mechanical forces in cellular processes. In this article, a series of large-scale molecular dynamics simulations are carried out to elucidate nanomechanical behavior such as elastic and viscoelastic properties of a single actin filament. Here, we used two individual methods namely, all-atoms and coarse-grained molecular dynamics, to evaluate elastic properties of a single actin filament. In the other word, based on Brownian motions of the filament and using the principle of the equipartition theorem, in aqueous solution, tensile stiffness, torsional rigidity, and bending rigidity of the single actin filament are studied. The results revealed that increasing the sampling window time leads to convergence of obtained mechanical properties to the experimental values. Moreover, in order to investigate viscoelastic properties of a single actin filament, constant force steered molecular dynamics method is used to apply different external tensile loads and perform five individual creep tests on the molecule. The strain-time response of the filament for each creep test is obtained. Based on the Kelvin-Voigt model, the results reveal that a single actin filament shows a nonlinear viscoelastic behavior, with a Young's modulus of 2.85 GPa, a viscosity of 4.06 GPa.ns, and a relaxation time in the range of 1.42 ns which were measured here for the first time at the single filament level. The findings of this article suggest that molecular dynamics simulations could also be a useful tool for investigating the mechanical behavior of bio-nanomaterials. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.