Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations of alpha-1,3-glucan

DJ Beltran-Villegas and D Intriago and KHC Kim and N Behabtu and JD Londono and A Jayaraman, SOFT MATTER, 15, 4669-4681 (2019).

DOI: 10.1039/c9sm00580c

In this paper we present a computational study of aggregation in aqueous solutions of alpha-1,3-glucan captured using a coarse-grained (CG) model that can be extended to other polysaccharides. This CG model captures atomistic geometry (i. e., relative placement of the hydrogen bonding donors and acceptors within the monomer) of the alpha-1,3-glucan monomer, the directional interactions due to the donor-acceptor hydrogen bonds, and their effect on aggregation of multiple alpha-1,3-glucan chains without the extensive computational resources needed for simulations with atomistic models. Using this CG model, we conduct molecular dynamics simulations to assess the effect of varying alpha-1,3-glucan chain length and hydrogen bond interaction strengths on the aggregation of multiple chains at finite concentrations in implicit solvent. We quantify the hydrogen bonding strength needed for multiple chains to aggregate, the distribution of inter-and intra-chain hydrogen bonds within the aggregate and in some cases, the shapes of the aggregate. We also explore the effect of substitution/silencing of some randomly selected or specific hydrogen bonding sites in the chain on the aggregation and aggregate structure. In the unmodified alpha-1,3-glucan solution, the inter-chain hydrogen bonds cause the chains to aggregate into sheets. Random silencing of hydrogen bonding donor sites only increases the hydrogen bond strength needed for aggregation but retains the same aggregate structure as the unmodified chains. Specific silencing of the hydrogen-bonding site on the C6 carbon leads to the chains aggregating into planar sheets that then fold over to form hollow cylinders at intermediate hydrogen bond strength -4.7 to 5.3 kcal mol(-1). These cylindrical aggregates assemble end-to-end to form larger aggregates at higher hydrogen bond strengths.

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