POPADIĆ, Aleksandar, SVENŠEK, Daniel, PODGORNIK, Rudolf, PRAPROTNIK, Matej. Sprejeto v Advanced Theory and Simulations.
A main-chain nematic polymer melt/solution exhibits macroscopic orientational order of main polymer chains, i.e., a preferred (nematic) direction. It has long been known that in such polymeric liquid crystals spatial density/concentration variations and distortions of the nematic direction are coupled, obeying a vectorial continuity constraint whose rigidity increases with chain length. Its vectorial nature precludes the application to flexible chains, where backfolds (hairpins) are present and apolar nematic symmetry is manifest, which has been its puzzling feature from the beginning. We now establish a description of the splay--density coupling in the case of arbitrary backfolding, devising a continuity constraint for the ``recovered'' polar order of the chain tangents and introducing hairpins as its new type of sources. Performing detailed Monte Carlo simulations of nematic monodomain melts of ``soft'' worm-like chains with variable length and flexibility, we show via their structure factors that the weakening of the coupling due to the backfolding can be consistently quantified on the macroscopic level.
We explore the implications of the conservation law(s) and the corresponding so-called continuity equation(s), resulting from the coupling between the positional and the orientational order in main-chain polymer nematics, by showing that the vectorial and tensorial forms of these equations are in general not equivalent and cannot be reduced to one another, but neither are they disjoint alternatives. We analyze the relation between them and elucidate the fundamental role that the chain backfolding plays in the determination of their relative strength and importance. Finally, we show that the correct penalty potential in the effective free energy, implementing these conservation laws, should actually connect both the tensorial and the vectorial constraints. We show that the consequences of the polymer chains’ connectivity for their consistent mesoscopic description are thus not only highly nontrivial but that its proper implementation is absolutely crucial for a consistent coarse-grained description of the main-chain polymer nematics.
We formulate a continuum approach to the equation of state (density dependence of osmotic pressure) of bulk DNA and encapsidated DNA, as well as review the phase diagram of DNA in the regime of densities relevant for DNA packing in bacteriophages. We derive the first integral of the equilibrium equations that connects the behavior of DNA in the bulk and in nanoscale enclosures, and we delineate the changes wrought upon the mesophase equilibria of encapsidated DNA. We show how multiphase equilibria and complicated spatial distribution of DNA density and orientation can emerge due to the curvature contribution to the DNA osmotic pressure within the capsid.
The composition and electrolyte concentration of the aqueous bathing environment have important consequences for many biological processes and can profoundly affect the behavior of biomolecules. Nevertheless, because of computational limitations, many molecular simulations of biophysical systems can be performed only at specific ionic conditions: either at nominally zero salt concentration, i.e., including only counterions enforcing the system’s electroneutrality, or at excessive salt concentrations. Here, we introduce an efficient molecular dynamics simulation approach for an atomistic DNA molecule at realistic physiological ionic conditions. The simulations are performed by employing the open-boundary molecular dynamics method that allows for simulation of open systems that can exchange mass and linear momentum with the environment. In our open-boundary molecular dynamics approach, the computational burden is drastically alleviated by embedding the DNA molecule in a mixed explicit/implicit salt-bathing solution. In the explicit domain, the water molecules and ions are both overtly present in the system, whereas in the implicit water domain, only the ions are explicitly present and the water is described as a continuous dielectric medium. Water molecules are inserted and deleted into/from the system in the intermediate buffer domain that acts as a water reservoir to the explicit domain, with both water molecules and ions free to enter or leave the explicit domain. Our approach is general and allows for efficient molecular simulations of biomolecules solvated in bathing salt solutions at any ionic strength condition.