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Dai W , Sengupta AM , Levy RM
First Passage Times, Lifetimes, and Relaxation Times of Unfolded Proteins
Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Jul 24;115(4) :048101
PMID: 26252709    PMCID: PMC4531052   
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The dynamics of proteins in the unfolded state can be quantified in computer simulations by calculating a spectrum of relaxation times which describes the time scales over which the population fluctuations decay to equilibrium. If the unfolded state space is discretized, we can evaluate the relaxation time of each state. We derive a simple relation that shows the mean first passage time to any state is equal to the relaxation time of that state divided by the equilibrium population. This explains why mean first passage times from state to state within the unfolded ensemble can be very long but the energy landscape can still be smooth (minimally frustrated). In fact, when the folding kinetics is two-state, all of the unfolded state relaxation times within the unfolded free energy basin are faster than the folding time. This result supports the well-established funnel energy landscape picture and resolves an apparent contradiction between this model and the recently proposed kinetic hub model of protein folding. We validate these concepts by analyzing a Markov state model of the kinetics in the unfolded state and folding of the miniprotein NTL9 (where NTL9 is the N-terminal domain of the ribosomal protein L9), constructed from a 2.9 ms simulation provided by D. E. Shaw Research.
Dai, Wei Sengupta, Anirvan M Levy, Ronald M R01 GM030580/GM/NIGMS NIH HHS/United States United States Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Jul 24;115(4):048101. Epub 2015 Jul 21.