Miller, John H., Jr.; Villagrau, Martha Y. Suarez; Mark, Sladjana; Briggs, James M.
Normal and impaired charge transport in biological systems

We examine the physics behind some of the causes (e.g., hole migration and localization that cause incorrect base pairing in DNA) and effects (due to amino acid replacements affecting mitochondrial charge transport) of disease-implicated point mutations, with emphasis on mutations affecting mitochondria! DNA (mtDNA). First we discuss hole transport and localization in DNA, including some of our quantum mechanical modeling results, as they relate to certain mutations in cancer. Next, we give an overview of electron and proton transport in the mitochondrial electron transport chain, and how such transport can become impaired by mutations implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and other major illnesses. In particular, we report On our molecular dynamics (MD) studies of a leucine arginine amino acid replacement in ATP synthase, encoded by the T --> G point mutation at locus 8993 of mtDNA. This mutation causes Leigh syndrome, a devastating maternally inherited neuromuscular disorder, and has been found to trigger rapid tumor growth in prostate cancer cell lines. Our MD results suggest, for the first time, that this mutation adversely affects water channels that transport protons to and from the c-ring of the rotary motor ATP synthase, thus impairing the ability of the motor to produce ATP. Finally, we discuss possible future research topics for biological physics, such as mitochondrial complex I. a large proton-pumping machine whose physics remains poorly understood. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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