Geometric somersaults of a polymer chain through cyclic twisting motions

Tomohiro Yanao, Taiko Hino

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    This study explores the significance of geometric angle shifts, which we call geometric somersaults, arising from cyclic twisting motions of a polymer chain. A five-bead polymer chain serves as a concise and minimal model of a molecular shaft throughout this study. We first show that this polymer chain can change its orientation about its longitudinal axis largely, e.g., 120, under conditions of zero total angular momentum by changing the two dihedral angles in a cyclic manner. This phenomenon is an example of the so-called "falling cat" phenomenon, where a falling cat undergoes a geometric somersault by changing its body shape under conditions of zero total angular momentum. We then extend the geometric somersault of the polymer chain to a noisy and viscous environment, where the polymer chain is steered by external driving forces. This extension shows that the polymer chain can achieve an orientation change keeping its total angular momentum and total external torque fluctuating around zero in a noisy and viscous environment. As an application, we argue that the geometric somersault of the polymer chain by 120 may serve as a prototypical and coarse-grained model for the rotary motion of the central shaft of ATP synthase (FOF1-ATPase). This geometric somersault is in clear contrast to the standard picture for the rotary motion of the central shaft as a rigid body, which generally incurs nonzero total angular momentum and nonzero total external torque. The power profile of the geometric somersault implies a preliminary mechanism for elastic power transmission. The results of this study may be of fundamental interest in twisting and rotary motions of biomolecules.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number012409
    JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 23


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
    • Statistics and Probability
    • Condensed Matter Physics

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