Journal article Open Access

Reproducibility in the unfolding process of protein induced by an external electric field

Mandl, Thomas; Sinelnikova, Anna; Östlin, Christofer; Grånäs, Oscar; Brodmerke, Maxim N.; Markl, Erik G.; Caleman, Carl

The dynamics of proteins are crucial for their function. However, commonly used techniques for studying
protein structures are limited in monitoring time-resolved dynamics at high resolution. Combining electric
fields with existing techniques to study gas-phase proteins, such as single particle imaging using freeelectron
lasers and gas-phase small angle X-ray scattering, has the potential to open up a new era in
time-resolved studies of gas-phase protein dynamics. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we identify
well-defined unfolding pathways of a protein, induced by experimentally achievable external electric
fields. Our simulations show that strong electric fields in conjunction with short-pulsed X-ray sources
such as free-electron lasers can be a new path for imaging dynamics of gas-phase proteins at high
spatial and temporal resolution.

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