Multiscale computational models in physical systems biology of intracellular trafficking

Richard W Tourdot, Ryan P Bradley, Natesan Ramakrishnan, Ravi Radhakrishnan
IET Systems Biology 2014, 8 (5): 198-213
In intracellular trafficking, a definitive understanding of the interplay between protein binding and membrane morphology remains incomplete. The authors describe a computational approach by integrating coarse-grained molecular dynamics (CGMD) simulations with continuum Monte Carlo (CM) simulations of the membrane to study protein-membrane interactions and the ensuing membrane curvature. They relate the curvature field strength discerned from the molecular level to its effect at the cellular length-scale. They perform thermodynamic integration on the CM model to describe the free energy landscape of vesiculation in clathrin-mediated endocytosis. The method presented here delineates membrane morphologies and maps out the free energy changes associated with membrane remodeling due to varying coat sizes, coat curvature strengths, membrane bending rigidities, and tensions; furthermore several constraints on mechanisms underlying clathrin-mediated endocytosis have also been identified, Their CGMD simulations have revealed the importance of PIP2 for stable binding of proteins essential for curvature induction in the bilayer and have provided a molecular basis for the positive curvature induction by the epsin N-terminal homology (EIMTH) domain. Calculation of the free energy landscape for vesicle budding has identified the critical size and curvature strength of a clathrin coat required for nucleation and stabilisation of a mature vesicle.

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