Steered molecular dynamics studies of titin I1 domain unfolding

Mu Gao, Matthias Wilmanns, Klaus Schulten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cardiac muscle protein titin, responsible for developing passive elasticity and extensibility of muscle, possesses about 40 immunoglobulin-like (Ig) domains in its I-band region. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) and steered molecular dynamics (SMD) have been successfully combined to investigate the reversible unfolding of individual Ig domains. However, previous SMD studies of titin I-band modules have been restricted to 127, the only structurally known Ig domain from the distal region of the titin I-band. In this paper we report SMD simulations unfolding I1, the first structurally available Ig domain from the proximal region of the titin I-band. The simulations are carried out with a view toward upcoming atomic force microscopy experiments. Both constant velocity and constant force stretching have been employed to model mechanical unfolding of oxidized I1, which has a disulfide bond bridging β-strands C and E, as well as reduced I1, in which the disulfide bridge is absent. The simulations reveal that I1 is protected against external stress mainly through six interstrand hydrogen bonds between its A and B β-strands. The disulfide bond enhances the mechanical stability of oxidized I1 domains by restricting the rupture of backbone hydrogen bonds between the A′- and G-strands. The disulfide bond also limits the maximum extension of I1 to ∼220 Å. Comparison of the unfolding pathways of I1 and 127 are provided and implications to AFM experiments are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3435-3445
Number of pages11
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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