Nature has evolved proteins to counteract forces applied on living cells, and has designed proteins that can sense forces. One can appreciate Nature's ingenuity in evolving these proteins to be highly sensitive to force and to have a high dynamic force range at which they operate. To achieve this level of sensitivity, many of these proteins are composed of multiple domains and linking peptides connecting these domains, each of them having their own force response regimes. Here, using a simple model of a protein, we address the question of how each individual domain responds to force. We also ask how multidomain proteins respond to forces. We find that the end-to-end distance of individual domains under force scales linearly with force. In multidomain proteins, we find that the force response has a rich range: at low force, extension is predominantly governed by "weaker"? linking peptides or domain intermediates, while at higher force, the extension is governed by unfolding of individual domains. Overall, the force extension curve comprises multiple sigmoidal transitions governed by unfolding of linking peptides and domains. Our study provides a basic framework for the understanding of protein response to force, and allows for interpretation experiments in which force is used to study the mechanical properties of multidomain proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6806-6809
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 14 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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