A multi-timescale strength model of alpha-helical protein domains

Theodor Ackbarow, Sinan Keten, Markus J. Buehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Here we report a constitutive model that characterizes the strength of an alpha-helical protein domain subjected to tensile deformation, covering more than ten orders of magnitude in timescales. The model elucidates multiple physical mechanisms of failure in dependence on the deformation rate, quantitatively linking atomistic simulation results with experimental strength measurements of alpha-helical protein domains. The model provides a description of the strength of alpha-helices based on fundamental physical parameters such as the H-bond energy and the polypeptide's persistence length, showing that strength is controlled by energetic, nonequilibrium processes at high rates and by thermodynamical, equilibrium processes at low rates. Our model provides a novel perspective on the strength of protein domains at ultra-slow pulling speeds relevant under physiologic and experimental conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number035111
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 8 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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