Collapse transition of a heterogeneous polymer in a crowded medium

Y Jung and BY Ha, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 155, 054902 (2021).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0056446

Long chain molecules can be entropically compacted in a crowded medium. We study the compaction transition of a heterogeneous polymer with ring topology by crowding effects in a free or confined space. For this, we use molecular dynamics simulations in which the effects of crowders are taken into account through effective interactions between chain segments. Our parameter choices are inspired by the Escherichia coli chromosome. The polymer consists of small and big monomers; the big monomers dispersed along the backbone are to mimic the binding of RNA polymerases. Our results show that the compaction transition is a two- step process: initial compaction induced by the association (clustering) of big monomers followed by a gradual overall compaction. They also indicate that cylindrical confinement makes the initial transition more effective; for representative parameter choices, the initial compaction accounts for about 60% reduction in the chain size. Our simulation results support the view that crowding promotes clustering of active transcription units into transcription factories. Published under an exclusive license by AIP Publishing.

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