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Structure Formation in Langmuir Peptide Films As Revealed from Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamics Simulations

Volker Knecht , Günter Reiter, Helmut Schlaad, and Renate Reiter. Langmuir published online

Molecular dynamics simulations in conjunction with the Martini coarse-grained model have been used to investigate the (nonequilibrium) behavior of helical 22-residue poly(γ-benzyl-l-glutamate) (PBLG) peptides at the water/vapor interface. Preformed PBLG mono- or bilayers homogeneously covering the water surface laterally collapse in tens of nanoseconds, exposing significant proportions of empty water surface. This behavior was also observed in recent AFM experiments at similar areas per monomer, where a complete coverage had been assumed in earlier work. In the simulations, depending on the area per monomer, either elongated clusters or fibrils form, whose heights (together with the portion of empty water surface) increase over time. Peptides tend to align with respect to the fiber axis or with the major principal axis of the cluster, respectively. The aspect ratio of the cluster observed is 1.7 and, hence, comparable to though somewhat smaller than the aspect ratio of the peptides in α-helical conformation, which is 2.2. The heights of the fibrils is 3 nm after 20 ns and increases to 4.5 nm if the relaxation time is increased by 2 orders of magnitude, in agreement with the experiment. Aggregates with heights of about 3 or 4.5 nm are found to correspond to local bi- or trilayer structures, respectively.

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