Unraveling the Molecular Dynamics of Glucose Oxidase Desorption Induced by Argon Cluster Collision

S Bertolini and A Delcorte, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B, 127, 9074-9081 (2023).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.3c04857

The bombardment of a protein multilayer target by an energetic argon cluster ion beam enables protein transfer onto a collector in the vacuum while preserving their bioactivity (iBEAM method). In parallel to this new soft-landing variant, protein transfer in the gas phase is a prerequisite for their characterization by mass spectrometry. The successful transfer of bioactive lysozymes (14 kDa) by cluster-induced soft landing and its mechanistic explanation by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations have sparked an important inquiry: Can heavier biomolecules be desorbed while maintaining their tridimensional structure and hence their bioactivity? To address this question, we employed MD simulations using a reactive force field (ReaxFF). Specifically, the Ar cluster- induced desorption of glucose oxidase from either a gold substrate or a lysozyme underlayer was modeled using the LAMMPS code. First, the force field parameters were trained by computing the dissociation energetics of a series of organic molecules with ReaxFF and DFT, in order to realistically describe N-S and O-S interactions in the bombarded glucose oxidase molecule. Second, bombardment simulations investigated the effects of cluster size (ranging from 1000 to 10000 Ar atoms) and kinetic energy (1.5 and 3.0 eV/atom) on the structural features and energetics of the desorbing glucose oxidase. Our results show that large argon clusters (>= 7000) are needed to desorb glucose oxidase from a gold surface, yet protein fragmentation and/or pronounced denaturation occur. However, the transfer of structurally preserved glucose oxidase in the gas phase is predicted by the simulations when an organic layer is used as a substrate.

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