European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 357–361 | Cite as

Periodic electric field as a biopolymer conformation switch: a possible mechanism

  • A. K. Vidybida


A theoretical model is proposed to describe the influence of a periodic electric field (PEF) upon a biopolymer. The biopolymer is treated as a classical mechanical system consisting of subsystems (molecular groups) which interact with each other through potential forces. The PEF is treated as a periodic driving force applied to a molecular group. The energy dissipation is considered using the model of fluid (viscous) friction. Arguments for the non-linear character of the friction-velocity dependence caused by the non-Newtonian rheology of a viscous medium are formulated.

A forced molecular-group motion is investigated for the situation of a small driving-force period, with oscillations overdamped and a driving force consisting of more than one harmonic. As a result, it is established that the motion always gets to a terminal stage when only a small-scale vibration about some point, X*, takes place. The terminal motion is preceded by a transient characterized by the presence of a directional velocity component and so by a drift along a potential profile. the drift goes on until a barrier is met which has a sufficiently large steepness (the barrier height is not important). As a result, the point X* may happen to be remote from the conformation potential local minimum (conformational state). The physical reasons for the drift are described.

If we consider the small-scale vibration about X* in the framework of the hierarchy of scales for intramolecular mobility, it can be regarded as an “equilibrium mobility”, whereas the drift can be regarded as a functionally important motion, and X* as a new conformational state which is realizable only in the presence of the PEF. It may be concluded, as the result of a consistent treatment and neglecting the small-scale vibration, that the conformational potential is modified by adding a linear term (in the one-dimensional case). In this connection, the set of conformational states can both deform (deviation of the positions of minima and their relative depth) and rearrange qualitatively (some minima can vanish and/or new minima can appear). In particular, the transition from one conformation to another one may happen due to rearrangement.

Key words

Intramolecular mobility microviscosity overdamping non-Newtonian rheology periodic electric field hierarchy of scales modified conformational potential 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. K. Vidybida
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Theoretical PhysicsKievUSSR

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