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Gotsmy, M; Escalona, Y; Oostenbrink, C; Petrov, D.
(2021): Exploring the structure and dynamics of proteins in soil organic matter
PROTEINS. 2021; 89(8): 925-936. FullText FullText_BOKU

Alongside inorganic materials, water, and air, soil organic matter (SOM) is one of the major components of soil and has tremendous influence on the environment given its vital role in the carbon cycle. Many soil dwelling organisms like plants, fungi and bacteria excrete proteins, whose interaction with SOM is poorly understood on an atomistic level. In this study, molecular dynamics simulations were used to investigate selected proteins in soil models of different complexity from simple co-solvent molecules to Leonardite humic acids (LHA). We analyzed the proteins in terms of their structural stability, the nature and strength of the interactions with their surroundings, as well as their aggregation behavior. Upon insertion of proteins in complex SOM models, their structural stability decreased, although no unfolding or disruption of secondary structure was observed. The interactions of proteins and SOM were primarily governed by electrostatic forces, often in form of hydrogen bonds. However, also weaker van der Waals forces made a significant contribution to the total interaction energies. Moreover, we showed that even though the molecular structure and size of SOM molecules varied, the functional groups of SOM ordered around the protein in a similar pattern. Finally, the number of aggregates formed by proteins and SOM molecules was shown to be primarily proportional to the size of the latter. Strikingly, for varying protein net charges no changes in the formation of aggregates with the strongly negatively charged LHA were observed.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Oostenbrink Chris
Petrov Drazen

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
complex environments
molecular dynamics simulation
protein-solvent interactions
soil organic matter

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