Highlights of our Work
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001
Energy for most of the earth's biosphere is gained when sun light absorbed drives electrons across a membrane through a protein called the photosynthetic reaction center (RC), leaving behind positive electron holes. The electrons join protons to become hydrogen atoms and move, bound pairwise to a quinone molecule, to another protein, the so-called bc1 complex. Here electrons and protons move together back over the membrane and become separated again, thereby establishing an electro-osmotic potential that fuels many cellular processes. However, the electrons need to return to the RC to fill the electron holes left behind. Nature employs for this purpose a kind of bioelectric extension cord in the form of a third protein, cytochrome c2, that shuttles the electrons back from the bc1 complex to the RC. A recent paper reports molecular dynamics simulations using NAMD that investigated how cytochrome c2 plugs into the RC. Landing on a broad face of the RC, interactions steer the protein such that its electron carrying heme group comes close to RC's chlorophylls with electrons missing, a chain of water molecules providing an electrical conduit. The study is yet another example of how simulations provide today complete views of the fundamental processes underlying life.