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  1. Abstract We use data-driven physical simulations to study the three-dimensional architecture of the Aedes aegypti genome. Hi-C maps exhibit both a broad diagonal and compartmentalization with telomeres and centromeres clustering together. Physical modeling reveals that these observations correspond to an ensemble of 3D chromosomal structures that are folded over and partially condensed. Clustering of the centromeres and telomeres near the nuclear lamina appears to be a necessary condition for the formation of the observed structures. Further analysis of the mechanical properties of the genome reveals that the chromosomes of Aedes aegypti , by virtue of their atypical structural organization, are highly sensitive to the deformation of the nuclei. This last finding provides a possible physical mechanism linking mechanical cues to gene regulation. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Energy flow in molecules, like the dynamics of other many-dimensional finite systems, involves quantum transport across a dense network of near-resonant states. For molecules in their electronic ground state, the network is ordinarily provided by anharmonic vibrational Fermi resonances. Surface crossing between different electronic states provides another route to chaotic motion and energy redistribution. We show that nonadiabatic coupling between electronic energy surfaces facilitates vibrational energy flow and, conversely, anharmonic vibrational couplings facilitate nonadiabatic electronic state mixing. A generalization of the Logan–Wolynes theory of quantum energy flow in many-dimensional Fermi resonance systems to the two-surface case gives a phase diagram describing the boundary between localized quantum dynamics and global energy flow. We explore these predictions and test them using a model inspired by the problem of electronic excitation energy transfer in the photosynthetic reaction center. Using an explicit numerical solution of the time-dependent Schrödinger equation for this ten-dimensional model, we find quite good agreement with the expectations from the approximate analytical theory. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 28, 2024
  3. The human estrogen receptor α (hER α ) is involved in the regulation of growth, development, and tissue homeostasis. Agonists that bind to the receptor’s ligand-binding domain (LBD) lead to recruitment of coactivators and the enhancement of gene expression. In contrast, antagonists bind to the LBD and block the binding of coactivators thus decreasing gene expressions. In this work, we carry out simulations using the AWSEM (Associative memory, Water mediated, Structure and Energy Model)-Suite force field along with the 3SPN.2C force field for DNA to predict the structure of hER α and study its dynamics when binding to DNA and coactivators. Using simulations of antagonist-bound hER α and agonist-bound hER α by themselves and also along with bound DNA and coactivators, principal component analyses and free energy landscape analyses capture the pathway of domain–domain communication for agonist-bound hER α . This communication is mediated through the hinge domains that are ordinarily intrinsically disordered. These disordered segments manipulate the hinge domains much like the strings of a marionette as they twist in different ways when antagonists or agonists are bound to the ligand-binding domain. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 7, 2024
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  6. Chen, Shi-Jie (Ed.)
    A prion-like RNA-binding protein, CPEB3, can regulate local translation in dendritic spines. CPEB3 monomers repress translation, whereas CPEB3 aggregates activate translation of its target mRNAs. However, the CPEB3 aggregates, as long-lasting prions, may raise the problem of unregulated translational activation. Here, we propose a computational model of the complex structure between CPEB3 RNA-binding domain (CPEB3-RBD) and small ubiquitin-like modifier protein 2 (SUMO2). Free energy calculations suggest that the allosteric effect of CPEB3-RBD/SUMO2 interaction can amplify the RNA-binding affinity of CPEB3. Combining with previous experimental observations on the SUMOylation mode of CPEB3, this model suggests an equilibrium shift of mRNA from binding to deSUMOylated CPEB3 aggregates to binding to SUMOylated CPEB3 monomers in basal synapses. This work shows how a burst of local translation in synapses can be silenced following a stimulation pulse, and explores the CPEB3/SUMO2 interplay underlying the structural change of synapses and the formation of long-term memories. 
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  7. Bacteriophage T7 gp4 helicase has served as a model system for understanding mechanisms of hexameric replicative helicase translocation. The mechanistic basis of how nucleoside 5′-triphosphate hydrolysis and translocation of gp4 helicase are coupled is not fully resolved. Here, we used a thermodynamically benchmarked coarse-grained protein force field, Associative memory, Water mediated, Structure and Energy Model (AWSEM), with the single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) force field 3SPN.2C to investigate gp4 translocation. We found that the adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) at the subunit interface stabilizes the subunit–subunit interaction and inhibits subunit translocation. Hydrolysis of ATP to adenosine 5′-diphosphate enables the translocation of one subunit, and new ATP binding at the new subunit interface finalizes the subunit translocation. The LoopD2 and the N-terminal primase domain provide transient protein–protein and protein–DNA interactions that facilitate the large-scale subunit movement. The simulations of gp4 helicase both validate our coarse-grained protein–ssDNA force field and elucidate the molecular basis of replicative helicase translocation. 
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