Letter | Published:

Acoustical Phonon Spectra of Biological Polymers

Nature volume 212, pages 400401 (22 October 1966) | Download Citation

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Abstract

ALTHOUGH much has been done in an attempt to understand the kinetics of biological processes in terms of their molecular motions1–4, it appears that until now no one has attempted to calculate or measure the proper (normal) modes of motion of helical biological polymers. We think it might help understanding of the mechanism of biological processes (such as the enzyme action of certain proteins or the replication of nucleic acids) if it were possible both to measure and to calculate the proper modes of motion of the polymers themselves since these motions may play an important part in biological processes. This communication presents a very simple calculation of the phonon dispersion of the acoustical modes of the Pauling α-helix in the harmonic approximation. The excitation of the higher (anharmonic) levels of this mode almost certainly leads to the well known helix coil transition5.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Materials Science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, and IBM Research Laboratory, San José, California.

    • WARNER L. PETICOLAS
    •  & MARK W. DOWLEY

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https://doi.org/10.1038/212400a0

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