Principles of Thermodynamics and Evolution for the Actions of Molecular Machines

Principles of Thermodynamics and Evolution for the Actions of Molecular Machines

January 21, 2020


727 E. Tyler St.
Tempe, AZ 85281


Biodesign Institute, AL1-10/14

Date and Time

January 27, 2020, 3:00 pm (Length: 1 hour 0 minutes)

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Jason Wagoner, PhD, Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology, Stony Brook University

Molecular machines are protein complexes that generate force and motion in living systems. These machines achieve impressive speeds at high efficiencies, often outperforming their macroscopic counterparts. Studying molecular machines can give unique insight into evolution, since evolutionary pressures act directly on thermodynamic properties that are easily quantified. We show that many machines evolve mechanisms that optimize speed and efficiency simultaneously, a win-win proposition. Other machine properties--such as the step size of myosin II, or the number of protons pumped by FoF1-ATPase--face a tradeoff, where high speed comes at the expense of efficiency. Studying these properties across different species gives insight into how evolution strikes a balance between speed and efficiency when both are desirable but evolutionary pressures are at odds. In addition to these individual machines, we study optimization of the cooperative actions of myosin II motors in muscle contraction. An important feature of this system is that it uses feedback mechanisms that, as part of a dissipative process, achieve collective thermodynamic properties that are essential to its proper function but would not be possible at equilibrium.

Hosted by Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution.