Physics Colloquium - Friday, May 2nd, 2008,
(Note special time!)
Center; Refreshments at 2:30 P.M. in
Self-assembly of rod-like polyelectrolytes: from materials to cystic fibrosis
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Electrostatic interactions play an important role in many biological
problems and can lead to counterintuitive phenomena. I will highlight a
number of problems in this area that we have addressed by means of
computational methods. Specifically, we have used Monte Carlo and
molecular dynamics simulations to better understand the self-assembly of
stiff polyelectrolytes (charged polymers). Such molecules,
e.g. filamentous actin, form close-packed bundles in the presence of
multivalent ions or proteins. We elucidate the mechanism of this
self-assembly process and are able to make direct comparison to
experimental results obtained via small-angle x-ray scattering. I will
also demonstrate how these findings pertain to fighting bacterial
infections in cystic fibrosis patients.
 Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104, 15994-15999 (2007).
 Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 138302 (2007).
 Biophys. J. 90, 4630-4638 (2006).