Due to their high durability and immobilization properties, cementitious materials have found a considerable application in the design and construction of radioactive waste repositories in the last decades. During cement paste production, organic additives are introduced to modify various properties of cement. The presence of such organic complexants may negatively affect the immobilizing properties of cement with respect to radionuclides. For better understanding and prediction of the effects of interactions between organic molecules and cementitious materials with radionuclides, we have developed several representative models consisting of three principal components: (i) calcium silicate hydrate (C-S-H) phase - the main binding phase of cement; (ii) gluconate, a simple well-described molecule, as a representative of organic additives; (iii) U(VI), as one of the most studied radionuclides of the actinide series. The C-S-H phase with low Ca/Si ratio (~0.83) typical for â€œlow-pHâ€ and degraded cement pastes has been selected for this modelling study. Structural, and energetic aspects of the sorption processes of uranyl, gluconate, and their mutual correlations on the surface of cement were quantitatively modeled by classical molecular dynamics (MD) and potential of mean force (PMF) calculations. The ternary surface complex formation between uranyl hydroxides and Ca2+ cations at the C-S-H aqueous interfaces is shown to have an important role in the overall sorption process. In the presence of gluconate, U(VI) sorption on C-S-H is facilitated by weakening the Ca2+ binding with the surface. Additionally, Na+ is proven to be an important competitor for certain surface sorption sites and can potentially affect the equilibrium properties of the interface.
How is a water-soluble globular protein able to spontaneously cross a cellular membrane? It is commonly accepted that it undergoes significant structural rearrangements on the lipid-water interface, thus acquiring membrane binding and penetration ability. In this study molecular dynamics (MD) simulations have been used to explore large-scale conformational changes of the globular viscumin A chain in a complex environment – comprising urea and chloroform/methanol (CHCl3/MeOH) mixture. Being well-packed in aqueous solution, viscumin A undergoes global structural rearrangements in both organic media. In urea, the protein is “swelling” and gradually loses its long-distance contacts, thus resembling the “molten globule” state. In CHCl3/MeOH, viscumin A is in effect turned “inside out”. This is accompanied with strengthening of the secondary structure and surface exposure of hydrophobic epitopes originally buried inside the globule. Resulting solvent-adapted models were further subjected to Monte Carlo simulations with an implicit hydrophobic slab membrane. In contrast to only a few point surface contacts in water and two short regions with weak protein-lipid interactions in urea, MD-derived structures in CHCl3/MeOH reveal multiple determinants of membrane interaction. Consequently it is now possible to propose a specific pathway for the structural adaptation of viscumin A with respect to the cell membrane – a probable first step of its translocation into cytoplasmic targets.
Voltage-gated potassium channels (KVs) perform vital physiological functions and are targets in different disorders ranging from ataxia and arrhythmia to autoimmune diseases. An important issue is the search for and production of selective ligands of these channels. Peptide toxins found in scorpion venom named KTx excel in both potency and selectivity with respect to some potassium channel isoforms, which may present only minute differences in their structure. Despite several decades of research the molecular determinants of KTx selectivity are still poorly understood. Here we analyze MeKTx13-3 (Kalium ID: α-KTx 3.19) from the lesser Asian scorpion Mesobuthus eupeus, a high-affinity KV1.1 blocker (IC50 ~2 nM); it also affects KV1.2 (IC50 ~100 nM), 1.3 (~10 nM) and 1.6 (~60 nM). By constructing computer models of its complex with KV1.1–1.3 channels we identify specific contacts between the toxin and the three isoforms. We then perform mutagenesis to disturb the identified contacts with KV1.1 and 1.2 and produce recombinant MeKTx13-3_AAAR, which differs by four amino acid residues from the parent toxin. As predicted by the modeling, this derivative shows decreased activity on KV1.1 (IC50 ~550 nM) and 1.2 (~200 nM). It also has diminished activity on KV1.6 (~1500 nM) but preserves KV1.3 affinity as measured using the voltage-clamp technique on mammalian channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes. In effect, we convert a selective KV1.1 ligand into a new specific KV1.3 ligand. MeKTx13-3 and its derivatives are attractive tools to study the structure-function relationship in potassium channel blockers.
The dynamics of a two-component Davydov-Scott (DS) soliton with a small mismatch of the initial location or velocity of the high-frequency (HF) component was investigated within the framework of the Zakharov-type system of two coupled equations for the HF and low-frequency (LF) fields. In this system, the HF field is described by the linear Schrödinger equation with the potential generated by the LF component varying in time and space. The LF component in this system is described by the Korteweg-de Vries equation with a term of quadratic influence of the HF field on the LF field. The frequency of the DS soliton`s component oscillation was found analytically using the balance equation. The perturbed DS soliton was shown to be stable. The analytical results were confirmed by numerical simulations.
Radiation conditions are described for various space regions, radiation-induced effects in spacecraft materials and equipment components are considered and information on theoretical, computational, and experimental methods for studying radiation effects are presented. The peculiarities of radiation effects on nanostructures and some problems related to modeling and radiation testing of such structures are considered.