Main content area

A Lattice Model of Charge-Pattern-Dependent Polyampholyte Phase Separation B

Das, Suman, Eisen, Adam, Lin, Yi-Hsuan, Chan, Hue Sun
The Journal of physical chemistry 2018 v.122 no.21 pp. 5418-5431
biophysics, models, physical chemistry, physical phases, polymers, proteins, separation, temperature
In view of recent intense experimental and theoretical interests in the biophysics of liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS) of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), heteropolymer models with chain molecules configured as self-avoiding walks on the simple cubic lattice are constructed to study how phase behaviors depend on the sequence of monomers along the chains. To address pertinent general principles, we focus primarily on two fully charged 50-monomer sequences with significantly different charge patterns. Each monomer in our models occupies a single lattice site, and all monomers interact via a screened pairwise Coulomb potential. Phase diagrams are obtained by extensive Monte Carlo sampling performed at multiple temperatures on ensembles of 300 chains in boxes of sizes ranging from 52 × 52 × 52 to 246 × 246 × 246 to simulate a large number of different systems with the overall polymer volume fraction ϕ in each system varying from 0.001 to 0.1. Phase separation in the model systems is characterized by the emergence of a large cluster connected by intermonomer nearest-neighbor lattice contacts and by large fluctuations in local polymer density. The simulated critical temperatures, Tcᵣ, of phase separation for the two sequences differ significantly, whereby the sequence with a more “blocky” charge pattern exhibits a substantially higher propensity to phase separate. The trend is consistent with our sequence-specific random-phase-approximation (RPA) polymer theory, but the variation of the simulated Tcᵣ with a previously proposed “sequence charge decoration” pattern parameter is milder than that predicted by RPA. Ramifications of our findings for the development of analytical theory and simulation protocols of IDP LLPS are discussed.