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Rotational diffusion coefficients of a small, spherical subunit flexibly tethered to a larger sphere

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Abstract

The rotational diffusion coefficients of a small spherical particle, which is flexibly anchored to the surface of a much larger sphere, are calculated using the hydrodynamic theory of segmentally flexible particles. The model is intended for representing the rotational mobility of a small residue or chromophore in the surface of a globular macromolecule. The coefficients are found to be essentially independent, or to vary slowly with the relative dispositions of the spheres. They are also insensitive to the size ratio when this ratio is high enough. These findings support the use of an approximative treatment proposed by Wegener in which the small conformation dependence is averaged out. The resulting averages are tentatively used in the Lipari-Szabo model for restricted rotational diffusion in a cone. It is concluded that the rotational relaxation of the small sphere has three components: (i) a torsional rotation with the same diffusion coefficient as the free sphere; (ii) a perpendicular wobbling with a diffusion coefficient several (five in a typical case) times smaller; and (iii) an overall rotation of the whole macromolecule, that will appear in a much longer time scale if the two spheres have quite distinct sizes.

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Correspondence to García de la Torre.

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Iniesta, A., García de la Torre Rotational diffusion coefficients of a small, spherical subunit flexibly tethered to a larger sphere. Eur Biophys J 14, 493–498 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00293259

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Key words

  • Rotational diffusion
  • tethered sphere
  • anisotropy decay
  • segmental flexibility