Effects of topological constraints on globular polymers

Maxim Imakaev 1 Konstantin Tchourine 2, 1 Sergei Nechaev 3, 4 Leonid Mirny 1, 5

Soft Matter, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015, 11, pp.665

Topological constraints can affect both equilibrium and dynamic properties of polymer systems, and can play a role in the organization of chromosomes. Despite many theoretical studies, the effects of topological constraints on the equilibrium state of a single compact polymer have not been systematically studied. Here we use simulations to address this longstanding problem. We find that sufficiently long unknotted polymers differ from knotted ones in the spatial and topological states of their subchains. The unknotted globule has subchains that are mostly unknotted and form asymptotically compact $R_G(s) \sim s^{1/3}$ crumples. However, crumples display high fractal dimension of the surface $d_b = 2.8$, forming excessive contacts and interpenetrating each other. We conclude that this topologically constrained equilibrium state resembles a conjectured crumpled globule [Grosberg et al., Journal de Physique, 1988, 49, 2095], but differs from its idealized hierarchy of self-similar, isolated and compact crumples.

  • 1. Department of Physics [Cambridge]
  • 2. Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, New York University
  • 3. LPTMS - Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques
  • 4. P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute
  • 5. Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, MIT