Phillip L Geissler

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, United States

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Publications (97)551.93 Total impact

  • Gregory R Bowman, Phillip L Geissler
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    ABSTRACT: Basic principles of statistical mechanics require that proteins sample an ensemble of conformations at any nonzero temperature. However, it is still common to treat the crystallo-graphic structure of a protein as the structure of its native state, largely because high-resolution structural characterization of protein flexibility remains a profound challenge. To as-sess the typical degree of conformational heterogeneity within folded proteins, we construct Markov state models describing the thermodynamics and kinetics of proteins ranging from 72 to 263 residues in length. Each of these models is built from hundreds of microseconds of atomically detailed molecular dynamics simulations. Examination of the side-chain degrees of freedom reveals that almost every residue visits at least two rotameric states over this time frame, with rotamer transition rates spanning a wide range of timescales (from nanoseconds to tens of microseconds). We also report substantial backbone dynamics on timescales longer than are typically addressed by experimental measures of protein flexibility, such as NMR or-der parameters. Finally, we demonstrate that these extensive rearrangements are consistent with NMR and crystallographic data, which supports the validity of our models. Altogether, the-se results depict the interior of proteins not as well-ordered solids, as is often imagined, but instead as dense fluids, which undergo substantial structural fluctuations despite their high packing fraction.
    The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 02/2014; · 3.61 Impact Factor
  • Suriyanarayanan Vaikuntanathan, Phillip L Geissler
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    ABSTRACT: The physics of air-water interfaces plays a central role in modern theories of the hydrophobic effect. Implementing these theories, however, has been hampered by the difficulty of addressing fluctuations in the shape of such soft interfaces. We show that this challenge is a fundamental consequence of mapping long wavelength density variations onto discrete degrees of freedom. Drawing from studies of surface roughness in lattice models, we account for the resulting nonlinearities simply but accurately. Simulations show that this approach captures complex solvation behaviors quantitatively.
    Physical Review Letters 01/2014; 112(2):020603. · 7.94 Impact Factor
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    Asaph Widmer-Cooper, Phillip L Geissler
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    ABSTRACT: We present the first nearly atomistic molecular dynamics study of nanorod-nanorod association in explicit solvent, showing that inter-rod forces can be dominated by microscopic factors absent in common continuum descriptions. Specifically, we find that alkane ligands on faceted CdS nanorods in n-hexane undergo a temperature-dependent order-disorder transition akin to that of self-assembled monolayers on macroscopic substrates. This collective ligand alignment organizes nearby solvent molecules, strongly influencing the statistics of rod-rod separation. The strong temperature-dependence of this mechanism could be exploited in the laboratory to manipulate and optimize the assembly of ordered structures.
    Nano Letters 12/2013; · 13.03 Impact Factor
  • Michael Grünwald, Phillip L. Geissler
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    ABSTRACT: Nanoparticles with "sticky patches" have long been proposed as building blocks for the self-assembly of complex structures. The synthetic realizability of such patchy particles, however, greatly lags behind predictions of patterns they could form. Using computer simulations, we show that structures of the same genre can be obtained from a solution of simple isotropic spheres, provided control only over their sizes and a small number of binding affinities. In a first step, finite clusters of well-defined structure and composition emerge from natural dynamics with high yield. In effect a kind of patchy particle, these clusters can further assemble into a variety of complex superstructures, including filamentous networks, ordered sheets, and highly porous crystals.
    10/2013;
  • Anna R Schneider, Phillip L Geissler
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    ABSTRACT: Photosystem II (PSII) and its associated light-harvesting complex II (LHCII) are highly concentrated in the stacked grana regions of photosynthetic thylakoid membranes. PSII-LHCII supercomplexes can be arranged in disordered packings, ordered arrays, or mixtures thereof. The physical driving forces underlying array formation are unknown, complicating attempts to determine a possible functional role for arrays in regulating light harvesting or energy conversion efficiency. Here, we introduce a coarse-grained model of protein interactions in coupled photosynthetic membranes, focusing on just two particle types that feature simple shapes and potential energies motivated by structural studies. Reporting on computer simulations of the model's equilibrium fluctuations, we demonstrate its success in reproducing diverse structural features observed in experiments, including extended PSII-LHCII arrays. Free energy calculations reveal that the appearance of arrays marks a phase transition from the disordered fluid state to a system-spanning crystal. The predicted region of fluid-crystal coexistence is broad, encompassing much of the physiologically relevant parameter regime; we propose experiments that could test this prediction. Our results suggest that grana membranes lie at or near phase coexistence, conferring significant structural and functional flexibility to this densely packed membrane protein system.
    Biophysical Journal 09/2013; 105(5):1161-70. · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We analyze the probability distribution for entropy production rates of trajectories evolving on a class of out-of-equilibrium kinetic networks. These networks can serve as simple models for driven dynamical systems, which are of particular importance in biological processes, where energy fluxes typically result in non-equilibrium dynamics. By analyzing the fluctuations in the entropy production, we demonstrate the emergence, in a large system size limit, of a dynamic phase transition between two distinct dynamical regimes.
    07/2013;
  • Phillip L Geissler
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    ABSTRACT: Liquid water consistently expands our appreciation of the rich statistical mechanics that can emerge from simple molecular constituents. Here I review several interrelated areas of recent work on aqueous systems that aim to explore and explain this richness by revealing molecular arrangements, their thermodynamic origins, and the timescales on which they change. Vibrational spectroscopy of OH stretching features prominently in these discussions, with an emphasis on efforts to establish connections between spectroscopic signals and statistics of intermolecular structure. For bulk solutions, the results of these efforts largely verify and enrich existing physical pictures of hydrogen-bond network connectivity, dynamics, and response. For water at interfaces, such pictures are still emerging. As an important example I discuss the solvation of small ions at the air-water interface, whose surface propensities challenge a basic understanding of how aqueous fluctuations accommodate solutes in heterogeneous environments. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Physical Chemistry Volume 64 is March 31, 2013. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
    Annual Review of Physical Chemistry 01/2013; · 13.37 Impact Factor
  • Anna R Schneider, Phillip L Geissler
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    ABSTRACT: Coarse-grained simulation is a powerful and well-established suite of computational methods for studying structure and dynamics in nanoscale biophysical systems. As our understanding of the plant photosynthetic apparatus has become increasingly nuanced, opportunities have arisen for coarse-grained simulation to complement experiment by testing hypotheses and making predictions. Here, we give an overview of best practices in coarse-grained simulation, with a focus on techniques and results that are applicable to the plant thylakoid membrane-protein system. We also discuss current research topics for which coarse-grained simulation has the potential to play a key role in advancing the field.
    Frontiers in Plant Science 01/2013; 4:555.
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    ABSTRACT: The adsorption behavior of ions at liquid-vapor interfaces exhibits several unexpected yet generic features. In particular, energy and entropy are both minimum when the solute resides near the surface, for a variety of ions in a range of polar solvents, contrary to predictions of classical theories. Motivated by this generality, and by the simple physical ingredients implicated by computational studies, we have examined interfacial solvation in highly schematic models, which resolve only coarse fluctuations in solvent density and cohesive energy. Here we show that even such lattice gas models recapitulate surprising thermodynamic trends observed in detailed simulations and experiments. Attention is focused on the case of two dimensions, for which approximate energy and entropy profiles can be calculated analytically. Simulations and theoretical analysis of the lattice gas highlight the role of capillary wave-like fluctuations in mediating adsorption. They further point to ranges of temperature and solute-solvent interaction strength where surface propensity is expected to be strongest.
    Faraday Discussions 01/2013; 160:63-74; discussion 103-20. · 3.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Curved membranes are an essential feature of dynamic cellular structures, including endocytic pits, filopodia protrusions and most organelles. It has been proposed that specialized proteins induce curvature by binding to membranes through two primary mechanisms: membrane scaffolding by curved proteins or complexes; and insertion of wedge-like amphipathic helices into the membrane. Recent computational studies have raised questions about the efficiency of the helix-insertion mechanism, predicting that proteins must cover nearly 100% of the membrane surface to generate high curvature, an improbable physiological situation. Thus, at present, we lack a sufficient physical explanation of how protein attachment bends membranes efficiently. On the basis of studies of epsin1 and AP180, proteins involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis, we propose a third general mechanism for bending fluid cellular membranes: protein-protein crowding. By correlating membrane tubulation with measurements of protein densities on membrane surfaces, we demonstrate that lateral pressure generated by collisions between bound proteins drives bending. Whether proteins attach by inserting a helix or by binding lipid heads with an engineered tag, protein coverage above ~20% is sufficient to bend membranes. Consistent with this crowding mechanism, we find that even proteins unrelated to membrane curvature, such as green fluorescent protein (GFP), can bend membranes when sufficiently concentrated. These findings demonstrate a highly efficient mechanism by which the crowded protein environment on the surface of cellular membranes can contribute to membrane shape change.
    Nature Cell Biology 08/2012; 14(9):944-9. · 20.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The kinetics and thermodynamics of structural transformations under pressure depend strongly on particle size due to the influence of surface free energy. By suitable design of surface structure, composition, and passivation it is possible, in principle, to prepare nanocrystals in structures inaccessible to bulk materials. However, few realizations of such extreme size-dependent behavior exist. Here, we show with molecular dynamics computer simulation that in a model of CdSe/ZnS core/shell nanocrystals the core high-pressure structure can be made metastable under ambient conditions by tuning the thickness of the shell. In nanocrystals with thick shells, we furthermore observe a wurtzite to NiAs transformation, which does not occur in the pure bulk materials. These phenomena are linked to a fundamental change in the atomistic transformation mechanism from heterogeneous nucleation at the surface to homogeneous nucleation in the crystal core.
    Nano Letters 07/2012; · 13.03 Impact Factor
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    Gregory R Bowman, Phillip L Geissler
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    ABSTRACT: Cryptic allosteric sites--transient pockets in a folded protein that are invisible to conventional experiments but can alter enzymatic activity via allosteric communication with the active site--are a promising opportunity for facilitating drug design by greatly expanding the repertoire of available drug targets. Unfortunately, identifying these sites is difficult, typically requiring resource-intensive screening of large libraries of small molecules. Here, we demonstrate that Markov state models built from extensive computer simulations (totaling hundreds of microseconds of dynamics) can identify prospective cryptic sites from the equilibrium fluctuations of three medically relevant proteins--β-lactamase, interleukin-2, and RNase H--even in the absence of any ligand. As in previous studies, our methods reveal a surprising variety of conformations--including bound-like configurations--that implies a role for conformational selection in ligand binding. Moreover, our analyses lead to a number of unique insights. First, direct comparison of simulations with and without the ligand reveals that there is still an important role for an induced fit during ligand binding to cryptic sites and suggests new conformations for docking. Second, correlations between amino acid sidechains can convey allosteric signals even in the absence of substantial backbone motions. Most importantly, our extensive sampling reveals a multitude of potential cryptic sites--consisting of transient pockets coupled to the active site--even in a single protein. Based on these observations, we propose that cryptic allosteric sites may be even more ubiquitous than previously thought and that our methods should be a valuable means of guiding the search for such sites.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2012; 109(29):11681-6. · 9.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A set of interatomic pair potentials is developed for CdS and ZnS crystals. We show that a simple energy function, which has been used to describe the properties of CdSe [E. Rabani, J. Chem. Phys. 116, 258 (2002)], can be parametrized to accurately describe the lattice and elastic constants, and phonon dispersion relations of bulk CdS and ZnS in the wurtzite and rocksalt crystal structures. The predicted coexistence pressure of the wurtzite and rocksalt structures as well as the equation of state are in good agreement with experimental observations. These new pair potentials enable the study of a wide range of processes in bulk and nanocrystalline II-VI semiconductor materials.
    The Journal of Chemical Physics 06/2012; 136(23):234111. · 3.16 Impact Factor
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    Evan Hohlfeld, Phillip L. Geissler
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    ABSTRACT: Many forms of cell motility rely on Brownian ratchet mechanisms that involve multiple stochastic processes. We present a computational and theoretical study of the nonequilibrium statistical dynamics of such a many-body ratchet, in the specific form of a growing polymer gel that pushes a diffusing obstacle. We find that oft-neglected correlations among constituent filaments impact steady-state kinetics and significantly deplete the gel's density within molecular distances of its leading edge. These behaviors are captured quantitatively by a self-consistent theory for extreme fluctuations in filaments' spatial distribution.
    04/2012;
  • Evan Hohlfeld, Phillip L. Geissler
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    ABSTRACT: We present a computational and theoretical study of a many-body Brownian ratchet, in which a "gel" of multiple, stiff polymerizing filaments pushes a diffusing obstacle. Our results show that steady-state dynamics of this system are strongly influenced by a layer of depleted filament density at the obstacle-gel interface. Inter-filament correlations within this molecule-thick layer have dramatic consequences for the velocity and structure of the growing gel. These emergent behaviors can be captured by mean field theories that emphasize the non-additivity of polymerization forces and indicate a key role for the fluctuating gap between gel and obstacle.
    04/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Direct imaging of nanoparticle solutions by liquid phase transmission electron microscopy has enabled unique in situ studies of nanoparticle motion and growth. In the present work, we report on real-time formation of two-dimensional nanoparticle arrays in the very low diffusive limit, where nanoparticles are mainly driven by capillary forces and solvent fluctuations. We find that superlattice formation appears to be segregated into multiple regimes. Initially, the solvent front drags the nanoparticles, condensing them into an amorphous agglomerate. Subsequently, the nanoparticle crystallization into an array is driven by local fluctuations. Following the crystallization event, superlattice growth can also occur via the addition of individual nanoparticles drawn from outlying regions by different solvent fronts. The dragging mechanism is consistent with simulations based on a coarse-grained lattice gas model at the same limit.
    ACS Nano 03/2012; 6(3):2078-85. · 12.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mechanical cues affect many important biological processes in metazoan cells, such as migration, proliferation, and differentiation. Such cues are thought to be detected by specialized mechanosensing molecules linked to the cytoskeleton, an intracellular network of protein filaments that provide mechanical rigidity to the cell and drive cellular shape change. The most abundant such filament, actin, forms branched networks nucleated by the actin-related protein (Arp) 2/3 complex that support or induce membrane protrusions and display adaptive behavior in response to compressive forces. Here we show that filamentous actin serves in a mechanosensitive capacity itself, by biasing the location of actin branch nucleation in response to filament bending. Using an in vitro assay to measure branching from curved sections of immobilized actin filaments, we observed preferential branch formation by the Arp2/3 complex on the convex face of the curved filament. To explain this behavior, we propose a fluctuation gating model in which filament binding or branch nucleation by Arp2/3 occur only when a sufficiently large, transient, local curvature fluctuation causes a favorable conformational change in the filament, and we show with Monte Carlo simulations that this model can quantitatively account for our experimental data. We also show how the branching bias can reinforce actin networks in response to compressive forces. These results demonstrate how filament curvature can alter the interaction of cytoskeletal filaments with regulatory proteins, suggesting that direct mechanotransduction by actin may serve as a general mechanism for organizing the cytoskeleton in response to force.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2012; 109(8):2913-8. · 9.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Extracellular stiffness has been shown to alter long timescale cell behaviors such as growth and differentiation, but the cellular response to changes in stiffness on short timescales is poorly understood. By studying the contractile response of cells to dynamic stiffness conditions using an atomic force microscope, we observe a seconds-timescale response to a step change in extracellular stiffness. Specifically, we observe acceleration in contraction velocity (μm/min) and force rate (nN/min) upon a step decrease in stiffness and deceleration upon a step increase in stiffness. Interestingly, this seconds-timescale response to a change in extracellular stiffness is not altered by inhibiting focal adhesion signaling or stretch-activated ion channels and is independent of cell height and contraction force. Rather, the response timescale is altered only by disrupting cytoskeletal mechanics and is well described by a simple mechanical model of a constant velocity actuator pulling against an internal cellular viscoelastic network. Consistent with the predictions of this model, we find that an osmotically expanding hydrogel responds to step changes in extracellular stiffness in a similar manner to cells. We therefore propose that an initial event in stiffness sensing is establishment of a mechanical equilibrium that balances contraction of the viscoelastic cytoskeleton with deformation of the extracellular matrix.
    Biophysical Journal 02/2012; 102(3):443-51. · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    David A Sivak, Phillip L Geissler
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    ABSTRACT: The wormlike chain model of DNA bending accurately reproduces single-molecule force-extension profiles of long (kilobase) chains. These bending statistics over large scales do not, however, establish a unique microscopic model for elasticity at the 1-10 basepair (bp) scale, which holds particular interest in biological contexts. Here, we examine a class of microscopic models which allow for disruption of base pairing (i.e., a "melt" or "kink", generically an "excitation") and consequently enhanced local flexibility. We first analyze the effect on the excitation free energy of integrating out the spatial degrees of freedom in a wormlike chain. Based on this analysis, we present a formulation of these models that ensures consistency with the well-established thermodynamics of melting in long chains. Using a new method to calculate cyclization statistics of short chains from enhanced-sampling Monte Carlo simulations, we compute J-factors of a meltable wormlike chain over a broad range of chain lengths, including very short molecules (30 bp) that have not yet been explored experimentally. For chains longer than about 120 bp, including most molecules studied to date in the laboratory, we find that melting excitations have little impact on cyclization kinetics. Strong signatures of melting, which might be resolved within typical experimental scatter, emerge only for shorter chains.
    The Journal of Chemical Physics 01/2012; 136(4):045102. · 3.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adsorption of aqueous thiocyanate ions from bulk solution to the liquid/vapor interface was measured as a function of temperature by resonant UV second harmonic generation spectroscopy. The resulting adsorption enthalpy and entropy changes of this prototypical chaotrope were both determined to be negative. This surprising result is supported by molecular simulations, which clarify the microscopic origins of observed thermodynamic changes. Calculations reveal energetic influences of adsorbed ions on their surroundings to be remarkably local. Negative adsorption enthalpies thus reflect a simple repartitioning of solvent density among surface, bulk, and coordination regions. A different, and much less spatially local, mechanism underlies the concomitant loss of entropy. Simulations indicate that ions at the interface can significantly bias surface height fluctuations even several molecular diameters away, imposing restrictions consistent with the scale of measured and computed adsorption entropies. Based on these results, we expect an ion's position in the Hofmeister lyotropic series to be determined by a combination of driving forces associated with the pinning of capillary waves and with a competition between ion hydration energy and the neat liquid's surface tension.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2012; 109(3):701-5. · 9.74 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
230 Downloads
551.93 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2012–2013
    • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
      • • Chemical Sciences Division
      • • Geochemistry Department
      Berkeley, CA, United States
  • 2000–2013
    • University of California, Berkeley
      • Department of Chemistry
      Berkeley, California, United States
    • University of Rochester
      Rochester, New York, United States
  • 2008
    • The University of Warwick
      Coventry, England, United Kingdom
    • Stanford University
      Palo Alto, California, United States
  • 2006–2008
    • CSU Mentor
      Long Beach, California, United States
  • 2005–2007
    • University of Vienna
      • Faculty of Physics
      Vienna, Vienna, Austria
    • Columbia University
      • Department of Chemistry
      New York City, NY, United States
  • 2003–2005
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      • Department of Chemistry
      Cambridge, MA, United States
  • 2002
    • Harvard University
      • Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
      Cambridge, MA, United States
    • University of Amsterdam
      • Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences
      Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands