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Title: A coarse-grained simulation model for colloidal self-assembly via explicit mobile binders
Colloidal particles with mobile binding molecules constitute a powerful platform for probing the physics of self-assembly. Binding molecules are free to diffuse and rearrange on the surface, giving rise to spontaneous control over the number of droplet–droplet bonds, i.e. , valence, as a function of the concentration of binders. This type of valence control has been realized experimentally by tuning the interaction strength between DNA-coated emulsion droplets. Optimizing for valence two yields droplet polymer chains, termed ‘colloidomers’, which have recently been used to probe the physics of folding. To understand the underlying self-assembly mechanisms, here we present a coarse-grained molecular dynamics (CGMD) model to study the self-assembly of this class of systems using explicit representations of mobile binding sites . We explore how valence of assembled structures can be tuned through kinetic control in the strong binding limit. More specifically, we optimize experimental control parameters to obtain the highest yield of long linear colloidomer chains. Subsequently tuning the dynamics of binding and unbinding via a temperature-dependent model allows us to observe a heptamer chain collapse into all possible rigid structures, in good agreement with recent folding experiments. Our CGMD platform and dynamic bonding model (implemented as an open-source custom plugin to HOOMD-Blue) reveal the molecular features governing the binding patch size and valence control, and opens the study of pathways in colloidomer folding. This model can therefore guide programmable design in experiments.  more » « less
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Soft Matter
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Just like atoms combine into molecules, colloids can self-organize into predetermined structures according to a set of design principles. Controlling valence—the number of interparticle bonds—is a prerequisite for the assembly of complex architectures. The assembly can be directed via solid “patchy” particles with prescribed geometries to make, for example, a colloidal diamond. We demonstrate here that the nanoscale ordering of individual molecular linkers can combine to program the structure of microscale assemblies. Specifically, we experimentally show that covering initially isotropic microdroplets withNmobile DNA linkers results in spontaneous and reversible self-organization of the DNA intoZ(N) binding patches, selecting a predictable valence. We understand this valence thermodynamically, deriving a free energy functional for droplet–droplet adhesion that accurately predicts the equilibrium size of and molecular organization within patches, as well as the observed valence transitions withN. Thus, microscopic self-organization can be programmed by choosing the molecular properties and concentration of binders. These results are widely applicable to the assembly of any particle with mobile linkers, such as functionalized liposomes or protein interactions in cell–cell adhesion.

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  2. Abstract

    Folding of ribozymes into well-defined tertiary structures usually requires divalent cations. How Mg2+ ions direct the folding kinetics has been a long-standing unsolved problem because experiments cannot detect the positions and dynamics of ions. To address this problem, we used molecular simulations to dissect the folding kinetics of the Azoarcus ribozyme by monitoring the path each molecule takes to reach the folded state. We quantitatively establish that Mg2+ binding to specific sites, coupled with counter-ion release of monovalent cations, stimulate the formation of secondary and tertiary structures, leading to diverse pathways that include direct rapid folding and trapping in misfolded structures. In some molecules, key tertiary structural elements form when Mg2+ ions bind to specific RNA sites at the earliest stages of the folding, leading to specific collapse and rapid folding. In others, the formation of non-native base pairs, whose rearrangement is needed to reach the folded state, is the rate-limiting step. Escape from energetic traps, driven by thermal fluctuations, occurs readily. In contrast, the transition to the native state from long-lived topologically trapped native-like metastable states is extremely slow. Specific collapse and formation of energetically or topologically frustrated states occur early in the assembly process.

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  3. This data set for the manuscript entitled "Design of Peptides that Fold and Self-Assemble on Graphite" includes all files needed to run and analyze the simulations described in the this manuscript in the molecular dynamics software NAMD, as well as the output of the simulations. The files are organized into directories corresponding to the figures of the main text and supporting information. They include molecular model structure files (NAMD psf or Amber prmtop format), force field parameter files (in CHARMM format), initial atomic coordinates (pdb format), NAMD configuration files, Colvars configuration files, NAMD log files, and NAMD output including restart files (in binary NAMD format) and trajectories in dcd format (downsampled to 10 ns per frame). Analysis is controlled by shell scripts (Bash-compatible) that call VMD Tcl scripts or python scripts. These scripts and their output are also included.

    Version: 2.0

    Changes versus version 1.0 are the addition of the free energy of folding, adsorption, and pairing calculations (Sim_Figure-7) and shifting of the figure numbers to accommodate this addition.

    Conventions Used in These Files

    Structure Files
    - graph_*.psf or sol_*.psf (original NAMD (XPLOR?) format psf file including atom details (type, charge, mass), as well as definitions of bonds, angles, dihedrals, and impropers for each dipeptide.)

    - graph_*.pdb or sol_*.pdb (initial coordinates before equilibration)
    - repart_*.psf (same as the above psf files, but the masses of non-water hydrogen atoms have been repartitioned by VMD script repartitionMass.tcl)
    - freeTop_*.pdb (same as the above pdb files, but the carbons of the lower graphene layer have been placed at a single z value and marked for restraints in NAMD)
    - amber_*.prmtop (combined topology and parameter files for Amber force field simulations)
    - repart_amber_*.prmtop (same as the above prmtop files, but the masses of non-water hydrogen atoms have been repartitioned by ParmEd)

    Force Field Parameters
    CHARMM format parameter files:
    - par_all36m_prot.prm (CHARMM36m FF for proteins)
    - par_all36_cgenff_no_nbfix.prm (CGenFF v4.4 for graphene) The NBFIX parameters are commented out since they are only needed for aromatic halogens and we use only the CG2R61 type for graphene.
    - toppar_water_ions_prot_cgenff.str (CHARMM water and ions with NBFIX parameters needed for protein and CGenFF included and others commented out)

    Template NAMD Configuration Files
    These contain the most commonly used simulation parameters. They are called by the other NAMD configuration files (which are in the namd/ subdirectory):
    - template_min.namd (minimization)
    - template_eq.namd (NPT equilibration with lower graphene fixed)
    - template_abf.namd (for adaptive biasing force)

    - namd/min_*.0.namd

    - namd/eq_*.0.namd

    Adaptive biasing force calculations
    - namd/eabfZRest7_graph_chp1404.0.namd
    - namd/eabfZRest7_graph_chp1404.1.namd (continuation of eabfZRest7_graph_chp1404.0.namd)

    Log Files
    For each NAMD configuration file given in the last two sections, there is a log file with the same prefix, which gives the text output of NAMD. For instance, the output of namd/eabfZRest7_graph_chp1404.0.namd is eabfZRest7_graph_chp1404.0.log.

    Simulation Output
    The simulation output files (which match the names of the NAMD configuration files) are in the output/ directory. Files with the extensions .coor, .vel, and .xsc are coordinates in NAMD binary format, velocities in NAMD binary format, and extended system information (including cell size) in text format. Files with the extension .dcd give the trajectory of the atomic coorinates over time (and also include system cell information). Due to storage limitations, large DCD files have been omitted or replaced with new DCD files having the prefix stride50_ including only every 50 frames. The time between frames in these files is 50 * 50000 steps/frame * 4 fs/step = 10 ns. The system cell trajectory is also included for the NPT runs are output/eq_*.xst.

    Files with the .sh extension can be found throughout. These usually provide the highest level control for submission of simulations and analysis. Look to these as a guide to what is happening. If there are scripts with step1_*.sh and step2_*.sh, they are intended to be run in order, with step1_*.sh first.


    The directory contents are as follows. The directories Sim_Figure-1 and Sim_Figure-8 include README.txt files that describe the files and naming conventions used throughout this data set.

    Sim_Figure-1: Simulations of N-acetylated C-amidated amino acids (Ac-X-NHMe) at the graphite–water interface.

    Sim_Figure-2: Simulations of different peptide designs (including acyclic, disulfide cyclized, and N-to-C cyclized) at the graphite–water interface.

    Sim_Figure-3: MM-GBSA calculations of different peptide sequences for a folded conformation and 5 misfolded/unfolded conformations.

    Sim_Figure-4: Simulation of four peptide molecules with the sequence cyc(GTGSGTG-GPGG-GCGTGTG-SGPG) at the graphite–water interface at 370 K.

    Sim_Figure-5: Simulation of four peptide molecules with the sequence cyc(GTGSGTG-GPGG-GCGTGTG-SGPG) at the graphite–water interface at 295 K.

    Sim_Figure-5_replica: Temperature replica exchange molecular dynamics simulations for the peptide cyc(GTGSGTG-GPGG-GCGTGTG-SGPG) with 20 replicas for temperatures from 295 to 454 K.

    Sim_Figure-6: Simulation of the peptide molecule cyc(GTGSGTG-GPGG-GCGTGTG-SGPG) in free solution (no graphite).

    Sim_Figure-7: Free energy calculations for folding, adsorption, and pairing for the peptide CHP1404 (sequence: cyc(GTGSGTG-GPGG-GCGTGTG-SGPG)). For folding, we calculate the PMF as function of RMSD by replica-exchange umbrella sampling (in the subdirectory Folding_CHP1404_Graphene/). We make the same calculation in solution, which required 3 seperate replica-exchange umbrella sampling calculations (in the subdirectory Folding_CHP1404_Solution/). Both PMF of RMSD calculations for the scrambled peptide are in Folding_scram1404/. For adsorption, calculation of the PMF for the orientational restraints and the calculation of the PMF along z (the distance between the graphene sheet and the center of mass of the peptide) are in Adsorption_CHP1404/ and Adsorption_scram1404/. The actual calculation of the free energy is done by a shell script ("") in the 1_free_energy/ subsubdirectory. Processing of the PMFs must be done first in the 0_pmf/ subsubdirectory. Finally, files for free energy calculations of pair formation for CHP1404 are found in the Pair/ subdirectory.

    Sim_Figure-8: Simulation of four peptide molecules with the sequence cyc(GTGSGTG-GPGG-GCGTGTG-SGPG) where the peptides are far above the graphene–water interface in the initial configuration.

    Sim_Figure-9: Two replicates of a simulation of nine peptide molecules with the sequence cyc(GTGSGTG-GPGG-GCGTGTG-SGPG) at the graphite–water interface at 370 K.

    Sim_Figure-9_scrambled: Two replicates of a simulation of nine peptide molecules with the control sequence cyc(GGTPTTGGGGGGSGGPSGTGGC) at the graphite–water interface at 370 K.

    Sim_Figure-10: Adaptive biasing for calculation of the free energy of the folded peptide as a function of the angle between its long axis and the zigzag directions of the underlying graphene sheet.


    This material is based upon work supported by the US National Science Foundation under grant no. DMR-1945589. A majority of the computing for this project was performed on the Beocat Research Cluster at Kansas State University, which is funded in part by NSF grants CHE-1726332, CNS-1006860, EPS-1006860, and EPS-0919443. This work used the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), which is supported by National Science Foundation grant number ACI-1548562, through allocation BIO200030. 
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  4. Molybdenum disulfide (MoS 2 ) is a layered material with outstanding electrical and optical properties. Numerous studies evaluate the performance in sensors, catalysts, batteries, and composites that can benefit from guidance by simulations in all-atom resolution. However, molecular simulations remain difficult due to lack of reliable models. We introduce an interpretable force field for MoS 2 with record performance that reproduces structural, interfacial, and mechanical properties in 0.1% to 5% agreement with experiments. The model overcomes structural instability, deviations in interfacial and mechanical properties by several 100%, and empirical fitting protocols in earlier models. It is compatible with several force fields for molecular dynamics simulation, including the interface force field (IFF), CVFF, DREIDING, PCFF, COMPASS, CHARMM, AMBER, and OPLS-AA. The parameters capture polar covalent bonding, X-ray structure, cleavage energy, infrared spectra, bending stability, bulk modulus, Young's modulus, and contact angles with polar and nonpolar solvents. We utilized the models to uncover the binding mechanism of peptides to the MoS 2 basal plane. The binding strength of several 7mer and 8mer peptides scales linearly with surface contact and replacement of surface-bound water molecules, and is tunable in a wide range from −86 to −6 kcal mol −1 . The binding selectivity is multifactorial, including major contributions by van-der-Waals coordination and charge matching of certain side groups, orientation of hydrophilic side chains towards water, and conformation flexibility. We explain the relative attraction and role of the 20 amino acids using computational and experimental data. The force field can be used to screen and interpret the assembly of MoS 2 -based nanomaterials and electrolyte interfaces up to a billion atoms with high accuracy, including multiscale simulations from the quantum scale to the microscale. 
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    Food consumption and waste elimination are vital functions for living systems. Although how feeding impacts animal form and function has been studied for more than a century since Darwin, how its obligate partner, excretion, controls and constrains animal behavior, size, and energetics remains largely unexplored. Here we study millimeter-scale sharpshooter insects (Cicadellidae) that feed exclusively on a plant’s xylem sap, a nutrient-deficit source (95% water). To eliminate their high-volume excreta, these insects exploit droplet superpropulsion, a phenomenon in which an elastic projectile can achieve higher velocity than the underlying actuator through temporal tuning. We combine coupled-oscillator models, computational fluid dynamics, and biophysical experiments to show that these insects temporally tune the frequency of their anal stylus to the Rayleigh frequency of their surface tension-dominated elastic drops as a single-shot resonance mechanism. Our model predicts that for these tiny insects, the superpropulsion of droplets is energetically cheaper than forming jets, enabling them to survive on an extreme energy-constrained xylem-sap diet. The principles and limits of superpropulsion outlined here can inform designs of energy-efficient self-cleaning structures and soft engines to generate ballistic motions.

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