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Joint Computational Science, Condensed Matter Physics and Biophysics Seminar
Professor Erik Luitjen
Materials Science and Engineering; Applied Mathematics

Northwestern University
Friday - April 3, 2009
12:00 noon
Physics Research Building - Room 595
3 Cummington Street

"Self-assembly of rod-like polyelectrolytes: from materials to cystic fibrosis "

Electrostatic interactions play an important role in many biological problems and can lead to counterintuitive phenomena. I will highlight a number of problems in this area that we have addressed by means of computational methods. Specifically, we have used Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics simulations to better understand the self-assembly of stiff polyelectrolytes (charged polymers). Such molecules, e.g. filamentous actin, form close-packed bundles in the presence of multivalent ions or proteins. We elucidate the mechanism of this self-assembly process and are able to make direct comparison to experimental results obtained via small-angle x-ray scattering. I will also demonstrate how these findings pertain to fighting bacterial infections in cystic fibrosis patients.

[1] Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104, 15994-15999 (2007).
[2] Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 138302 (2007).
[3] Biophys. J. 90, 4630-4638 (2006).



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