Indexed on: 02 May '16Published on: 02 May '16Published in: The Journal of chemical physics
A series of atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of a small enzymatic protein Chymotrypsin Inhibitor 2 (CI2) in water-ethanol mixed solutions were carried out to explore the underlying mechanism of ethanol driven conformational changes of the protein. Efforts have been made to probe the influence of ethanol concentrations ranging from 0% to 75% (v/v) at ambient condition (300 K (T1)) and at elevated temperatures (375 K (T2) and 450 K (T3)) to investigate the temperature induced conformational changes of the protein further. Our study showed that the effect of varying ethanol concentrations on protein's structure is almost insignificant at T1 and T2 temperatures whereas at T3 temperature, partial unfolding of CI2 in 10% ethanol solution followed by full unfolding of the protein at ethanol concentrations above 25% occurs. However, interestingly, at T3 temperature CI2's native structure was found to be retained in pure water (0% ethanol solution) indicating that the cosolvent ethanol do play an important role in thermal denaturation of CI2. Such observations were quantified in the light of root-mean-square deviations (RMSDs) and radius of gyration. Although higher RMSD values of β-sheet over α-helix indicate complete destruction of the β-structure of CI2 at high ethanol concentrations, the associated time scale showed that the faster melting of α-helix happens over β-sheet. Around 60%-80% of initial native contacts of the protein were found broken with the separation of hydrophobic core consisting eleven residues at ethanol concentrations greater than 25%. This leads protein to expand with the increase in solvent accessible surface area. The interactions between protein and solvent molecules showed that protein's solvation shell preferred to accommodate ethanol molecules as compared to water thereby excluded water molecules from CI2's surface. Further, concentration dependent differential self-aggregation behavior of ethanol is likely to regulate the replacement of relatively fast diffused water by low diffused ethanol molecules from protein's surface during the unfolding process.