Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104
, 17283 (2007)
ISSN: 0027-8424, SCI
Structural motifs of biomolecules
J. R. Banavar, T. X. Hoang, J. H. Maddocks, A. Maritan, C. Poletto, A. Stasiak, and A. Trovato
Biomolecular structures are assemblies of emergent anisotropic building modules such as uniaxial helices or biaxial strands. We provide an approach to understanding a marginally compact phase of matter that is occupied by proteins and DNA. This phase, which is in some respects analogous to the liquid crystal phase for chain molecules, stabilizes a range of shapes that can be obtained by sequence-independent interactions occurring intra- and intermolecularly between polymeric molecules. We present a singularity-free self-interaction for a tube in the continuum limit and show that this results in the tube being positioned in the marginally compact phase. Our work provides a unified framework for understanding the building blocks of biomolecules.