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Description: It is generally accepted that the information necessary to specify the native, functional, three-dimensional structure of a protein is encoded entirely within its amino acid sequence; however, efficient reversible folding and unfolding is observed only with a subset of small single-domain proteins. Refolding experiments often lead to the formation of kinetically-trapped, misfolded species that aggregate, even in dilute solution. In the cellular environment, the barriers to efficient protein folding and maintenance of native structure are even larger due to the nature of this process. First, nascent polypeptides must fold in an extremely crowded environment where the concentration of macromolecules approaches 300-400 mg/mL and on average, each ribosome is within its own diameter of another ribosome (1-3). These conditions of severe molecular crowding, coupled with high concentrations of nascent polypeptide chains, favor nonspecific aggregation over productive folding (3). Second, folding of newly-translated polypeptides occurs in the context of their vehtorial synthesis process. Amino acids are added to a growing nascent chain at the rate of -5 residues per set, which means that for a 300 residue protein its N-terminus will be exposed to the cytosol {approx}1 min before its C-terminus and be free to begin the folding process. However, because protein folding is highly cooperative, the nascent polypeptide cannot reach its native state until a complete folding domain (50-250 residues) has emerged from the ribosome. Thus, for a single-domain protein, the final steps in folding are only completed post-translationally since {approx}40 residues of a nascent chain are sequestered within the exit channel of the ribosome and are not available for folding (4). A direct consequence of this limitation in cellular folding is that during translation incomplete domains will exist in partially-folded states that tend to expose hydrophobic residues that are prone to aggregation and/or misfolding. Thus it is not surprising that, ...
Date: December 3, 2001
Creator: Flanagan, J. M. & Bewley, M. C.

Modeling the Reactions of Energetic Materials in the Condensed Phase

Description: High explosive (HE) materials are unique for having a strong exothermic reactivity, which has made them desirable for both military and commercial applications. Although the history of HE materials is long, condensed-phase properties are poorly understood. Understanding the condensed-phase properties of HE materials is important for determining stability and performance. Information regarding HE material properties (for example, the physical, chemical, and mechanical behaviors of the constituents in plastic-bonded explosive, or PBX, formulations) is necessary in efficiently building the next generation of explosives as the quest for more powerful energetic materials (in terms of energy per volume) moves forward. In addition, understanding the reaction mechanisms has important ramifications in disposing of such materials safely and cheaply, as there exist vast stockpiles of HE materials with corresponding contamination of earth and groundwater at these sites, as well as a military testing sites The ability to model chemical reaction processes in condensed phase energetic materials is rapidly progressing. Chemical equilibrium modeling is a mature technique with some limitations. Progress in this area continues, but is hampered by a lack of knowledge of condensed phase reaction mechanisms and rates. Atomistic modeling is much more computationally intensive, and is currently limited to very short time scales. Nonetheless, this methodology promises to yield the first reliable insights into the condensed phase processes responsible for high explosive detonation. Further work is necessary to extend the timescales involved in atomistic simulations. Recent work in implementing thermostat methods appropriate to shocks may promise to overcome some of these difficulties. Most current work on energetic material reactivity assumes that electronically adiabatic processes dominate. The role of excited states is becoming clearer, however. These states are not accessible in perfect crystals under realistic pressures and temperatures, but may still be accessed through defects or other energy localization mechanisms.
Date: December 3, 2003
Creator: Fried, L. E.; Manaa, M. R. & Lewis, J. P.