Scholarly Works, Center for Soft Matter and Biological Physics

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  • Combined computational modeling and experimental study of the biomechanical mechanisms of platelet-driven contraction of fibrin clots
    Michael, Christian; Pancaldi, Francesco; Britton, Samuel; Kim, Oleg V.; Peshkova, Alina D.; Vo, Khoi; Xu, Zhiliang; Litvinov, Rustem I.; Weisel, John W.; Alber, Mark (Nature Portfolio, 2023-08-24)
    While blood clot formation has been relatively well studied, little is known about the mechanisms underlying the subsequent structural and mechanical clot remodeling called contraction or retraction. Impairment of the clot contraction process is associated with both life-threatening bleeding and thrombotic conditions, such as ischemic stroke, venous thromboembolism, and others. Recently, blood clot contraction was observed to be hindered in patients with COVID-19. A three-dimensional multiscale computational model is developed and used to quantify biomechanical mechanisms of the kinetics of clot contraction driven by platelet-fibrin pulling interactions. These results provide important biological insights into contraction of platelet filopodia, the mechanically active thin protrusions of the plasma membrane, described previously as performing mostly a sensory function. The biomechanical mechanisms and modeling approach described can potentially apply to studying other systems in which cells are embedded in a filamentous network and exert forces on the extracellular matrix modulated by the substrate stiffness.
  • Biologically relevant small variations of intra-cellular pH can have significant effect on stability of protein-DNA complexes, including the nucleosome
    Onufriev, Alexey V. (Frontiers, 2023-04)
    Stability of a protein-ligand complex may be sensitive to pH of its environment. Here we explore, computationally, stability of a set of protein-nucleic acid complexes using fundamental thermodynamic linkage relationship. The nucleosome, as well as an essentially random selection of 20 protein complexes with DNA or RNA, are included in the analysis. An increase in intracellular/intra-nuclear pH destabilizes most complexes, including the nucleosome. We propose to quantify the effect by Delta Delta G(0.3)- the change in the binding free energy due to pH increase of 0.3 units, corresponding to doubling of the H+ activity; variations of pH of this amplitude can occur in living cells, including in the course of the cell cycle, and in cancer cells relative to normal ones. We suggest, based on relevant experimental findings, a threshold of biological significance of 12 k(B)T (similar to 0.3 kcal/mol) for changes of stability of chromatin-related protein-DNA complexes: a change in the binding affinity above the threshold may have biological consequences. We find that for 70% of the examined complexes,Delta Delta G(0.3) > 12 k(B)T (for 10%,Delta Delta G(0.3) is between 3 and 4 k(B)T). Thus, small but relevant variations of intra-nuclear pH of 0.3 may have biological consequences for many protein-nucleic acid complexes. The binding affinity between the histone octamer and its DNA, which directly affects the DNA accessibility in the nucleosome, is predicted to be highly sensitive to intranuclear pH. A variation of 0.3 units results in Delta Delta G(0.3) similar to 10k(B)T (similar to 6 kcal/mol); for spontaneous unwrapping of 20 bp long entry/exit fragments of the nucleosomal DNA,Delta Delta G(0.3) = 2.2k(B)T; partial disassembly of the nucleosome into the tetrasome is characterized by Delta Delta G(0.3) = 5.2k(B)T. The predicted pH -induced modulations of the nucleosome stability are significant enough to suggest that they may have consequences relevant to the biological function of the nucleosome. Accessibility of the nucleosomal DNA is predicted to positively correlate with pH variations during the cell cycle; an increase in intra-cellular pH seen in cancer cells is predicted to lead to a more accessible nucleosomal DNA; a drop in pH associated with apoptosis is predicted to make nucleosomal DNA less accessible. We speculate that processes that depend on accessibility to the DNA in the nucleosomes, such as transcription or DNA replication, might become upregulated due to relatively small, but nevertheless realistic increases of intranuclear pH.
  • Perturbative field-theoretical analysis of three-species cyclic predator-prey models
    Yao, Louie Hong; Swailem, Mohamed; Dobramysl, Ulrich; Tauber, Uwe C. (IOP Publishing, 2023-06)
    We apply a perturbative Doi-Peliti field-theoretical analysis to the stochastic spatially extended symmetric Rock-paper-Scissors (RPS) and May-Leonard (ML) models, in which three species compete cyclically. Compared to the two-species Lotka-Volterra predator-prey (LV) model, according to numerical simulations, these cyclical models appear to be less affected by intrinsic stochastic fluctuations. Indeed, we demonstrate that the qualitative features of the ML model are insensitive to intrinsic reaction noise. In contrast, and although not yet observed in numerical simulations, we find that the RPS model acquires significant fluctuation-induced renormalizations in the perturbative regime, similar to the LV model. We also study the formation of spatio-temporal structures in the framework of stability analysis and provide a clearcut explanation for the absence of spatial patterns in the RPS system, whereas the spontaneous emergence of spatio-temporal structures features prominently in the LV and the ML models.
  • Strong interactions between highly dynamic lamina-associated domains and the nuclear envelope stabilize the 3D architecture of Drosophila interphase chromatin
    Tolokh, Igor S.; Kinney, Nicholas A.; Sharakhov, Igor V.; Onufriev, Alexey V. (2023-05-30)
    Background Interactions among topologically associating domains (TADs), and between the nuclear envelope (NE) and lamina-associated domains (LADs) are expected to shape various aspects of three-dimensional (3D) chromatin structure and dynamics; however, relevant genome-wide experiments that may provide statistically significant conclusions remain difficult. Results We have developed a coarse-grained dynamical model of D. melanogaster nuclei at TAD resolution that explicitly accounts for four distinct epigenetic classes of TADs and LAD–NE interactions. The model is parameterized to reproduce the experimental Hi-C map of the wild type (WT) nuclei; it describes time evolution of the chromatin over the G1 phase of the interphase. The simulations include an ensemble of nuclei, corresponding to the experimentally observed set of several possible mutual arrangements of chromosomal arms. The model is validated against multiple structural features of chromatin from several different experiments not used in model development. Predicted positioning of all LADs at the NE is highly dynamic—the same LAD can attach, detach and move far away from the NE multiple times during interphase. The probabilities of LADs to be in contact with the NE vary by an order of magnitude, despite all having the same affinity to the NE in the model. These probabilities are mostly determined by a highly variable local linear density of LADs along the genome, which also has the same strong effect on the predicted positioning of individual TADs -- higher probability of a TAD to be near NE is largely determined by a higher linear density of LADs surrounding this TAD. The distribution of LADs along the chromosome chains plays a notable role in maintaining a non-random average global structure of chromatin. Relatively high affinity of LADs to the NE in the WT nuclei substantially reduces sensitivity of the global radial chromatin distribution to variations in the strength of TAD–TAD interactions compared to the lamin depleted nuclei, where a small (0.5 kT) increase of cross-type TAD–TAD interactions doubles the chromatin density in the central nucleus region. Conclusions A dynamical model of the entire fruit fly genome makes multiple genome-wide predictions of biological interest. The distribution of LADs along the chromatin chains affects their probabilities to be in contact with the NE and radial positioning of highly mobile TADs, playing a notable role in creating a non-random average global structure of the chromatin. We conjecture that an important role of attractive LAD–NE interactions is to stabilize global chromatin structure against inevitable cell-to-cell variations in TAD–TAD interactions.
  • Facile Implementation of Antimicrobial Coatings through Adhesive Films (Wraps) Demonstrated with Cuprous Oxide Coatings
    Behzadinasab, Saeed; Williams, Myra D.; Falkinham, Joseph O.; Ducker, William A. (MDPI, 2023-05-17)
    Antimicrobial coatings have a finite lifetime because of wear, depletion of the active ingredient, or surface contamination that produces a barrier between the pathogen and the active ingredient. The limited lifetime means that facile replacement is important. Here, we describe a generic method for rapidly applying and reapplying antimicrobial coatings to common-touch surfaces. The method is to deposit an antimicrobial coating on a generic adhesive film (wrap), and then to attach that modified wrap to the common-touch surface. In this scenario, the adhesion of the wrap and antimicrobial efficacy are separated and can be optimized independently. We demonstrate the fabrication of two antimicrobial wraps, both using cuprous oxide (Cu2O) as the active ingredient. The first uses polyurethane (PU) as the polymeric binder and the second uses polydopamine (PDA). Our antimicrobial PU/Cu2O and PDA/Cu2O wraps, respectively, kill >99.98% and >99.82% of the human pathogen, P. aeruginosa, in only 10 min, and each of them kill >99.99% of the bacterium in 20 min. These antimicrobial wraps can be removed and replaced on the same object in <1 min with no tools. Wraps are already frequently used by consumers to coat drawers or cars for aesthetic or protective purposes.
  • Phafins Are More Than Phosphoinositide-Binding Proteins
    Tang, Tuoxian; Hasan, Mahmudul; Capelluto, Daniel G. S. (MDPI, 2023-04-30)
    Phafins are PH (Pleckstrin Homology) and FYVE (Fab1, YOTB, Vac1, and EEA1) domain-containing proteins. The Phafin protein family is classified into two groups based on their sequence homology and functional similarity: Phafin1 and Phafin2. This protein family is unique because both the PH and FYVE domains bind to phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate [PtdIns(3)P], a phosphoinositide primarily found in endosomal and lysosomal membranes. Phafin proteins act as PtdIns(3)P effectors in apoptosis, endocytic cargo trafficking, and autophagy. Additionally, Phafin2 is recruited to macropinocytic compartments through coincidence detection of PtdIns(3)P and PtdIns(4)P. Membrane-associated Phafins serve as adaptor proteins that recruit other binding partners. In addition to the phosphoinositide-binding domains, Phafin proteins present a poly aspartic acid motif that regulates membrane binding specificity. In this review, we summarize the involvement of Phafins in several cellular pathways and their potential physiological functions while highlighting the similarities and differences between Phafin1 and Phafin2. Besides, we discuss research perspectives for Phafins.
  • Molecular Weight Distribution of Branched Polymers: Comparison between Monte Carlo Simulation and Flory-Stockmayer Theory
    Wen, Chengyuan; Odle, Roy; Cheng, Shengfeng (MDPI, 2023-04-04)
    It is challenging to predict the molecular weight distribution (MWD) for a polymer with a branched architecture, though such information will significantly benefit the design and development of branched polymers with desired properties and functions. A Monte Carlo (MC) simulation method based on the Gillespie algorithm is developed to quickly compute the MWD of branched polymers formed through step-growth polymerization, with a branched polyetherimide from two backbone monomers (4,4′-bisphenol A dianhydride and m-phenylenediamine), a chain terminator (phthalic anhydride), and a branching agent (tris[4-(4-aminophenoxy)phenyl] ethane) as an example. This polymerization involves four reactions that can be all reduced to a condensation reaction between an amine group and a carboxylic anhydride group. A comparison between the MC simulation results and the predictions of the Flory-Stockmayer theory on MWD shows that the rates of the reactions are determined by the concentrations of the functional groups on the monomers involved in each reaction. It further shows that the Flory-Stockmayer theory predicts MWD well for systems below the gel point but starts to fail for systems around or above the gel point. However, for all the systems, the MC method can be used to reliably predict MWD no matter if they are below or above the gel point. Even for a macroscopic system, a converging distribution can be quickly obtained through MC simulations on a system of only a few hundred to a few thousand monomers that have the same molar ratios as in the macroscopic system.
  • Critical dynamics of the antiferromagnetic O(3) nonlinear sigma model with conserved magnetization
    Yao, Louie Hong; Täuber, Uwe C. (American Physical Society, 2022-06-01)
    We study the near-equilibrium critical dynamics of the O(3) nonlinear sigma model describing isotropic antiferromagnets with a nonconserved order parameter reversibly coupled to the conserved total magnetization. To calculate response and correlation functions, we set up a description in terms of Langevin stochastic equations of motion, and their corresponding Janssen-De Dominicis response functional. We find that in equilibrium, the dynamics is well-separated from the statics, at least to one-loop order in a perturbative treatment with respect to the static and dynamical nonlinearities. Since the static nonlinear sigma model must be analyzed in a dimensional d=2+ɛ expansion about its lower critical dimension dlc=2, whereas the dynamical mode-coupling terms are governed by the upper critical dimension dc=4, a simultaneous perturbative dimensional expansion is not feasible, and the reversible critical dynamics for this model cannot be accessed at the static critical renormalization group fixed point. However, in the coexistence limit addressing the long-wavelength properties of the low-temperature ordered phase, we can perform an ϵ=4-d expansion near dc. This yields anomalous scaling features induced by the massless Goldstone modes, namely subdiffusive relaxation for the conserved magnetization density with asymptotic scaling exponent zΓ=d-2, which may be observable in neutron scattering experiments. Intriguingly, if initialized near the critical point, the renormalization group flow for the effective dynamical exponents recovers their universal critical values zc=d/2 in an intermediate crossover region.
  • Effects of lattice dilution on the non-equilibrium phase transition in the stochastic susceptible-infectious-recovered model
    Mukhamadiarov, Ruslan I.; Täuber, Uwe C. (American Physical Society, 2022-09-01)
    We investigate how site dilution, as would be introduced by immunization, affects the properties of the active-to-absorbing nonequilibrium phase transition in the paradigmatic susceptible-infectious-recovered (SIR) model on regular cubic lattices. According to the Harris criterion, the critical behavior of the SIR model, which is governed by the universal scaling exponents of the dynamic isotropic percolation (DyIP) universality class, should remain unaltered after introducing impurities. However, when the SIR reactions are simulated for immobile agents on two- and three-dimensional lattices subject to quenched disorder, we observe a wide crossover region characterized by varying effective exponents. Only after a sufficient increase of the lattice sizes does it become clear that the SIR system must transition from that crossover regime before the effective critical exponents asymptotically assume the expected DyIP values. We attribute the appearance of this exceedingly long crossover to a time lag in a complete recovery of small disconnected clusters of susceptible sites, which are apt to be generated when the system is prepared with Poisson-distributed quenched disorder. Finally, we demonstrate that this transient region becomes drastically diminished when we significantly increase the value of the recovery rate or enable diffusive agent mobility through short-range hopping.
  • Mechanism and Efficacy of Cu2O-Treated Fabric
    Benmamoun, Zachary; Wyhopen, Trent; Li, You; Ducker, William A. (MDPI, 2022-11-16)
    Pathogenic bacteria can remain viable on fabrics for several days and therefore are a source of infection. Antimicrobial fabrics are a potential method of reducing such infections, and advances in antimicrobial fabrics can be enhanced by knowledge of how the fabric kills bacteria. Metal oxides have been considered and used as antimicrobial ingredients in self-sanitizing surfaces, including in clinical settings. In this work, we examine how the addition of cuprous oxide (Cu2O) particles to polypropylene fibers kills bacteria. First, we show that the addition of the Cu2O particles reduces the viability of common hospital pathogens, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Streptococcus pneumoniae, by 99.9% after 30 min of contact with the treated polypropylene. Then, we demonstrate that the main killing effect is due to the drying of the bacteria onto the cuprous oxide particles. There is also a weaker effect due to free Cu+ ions that dissolve into the liquid. Other dissolved species were unimportant. Chelation of these Cu+ ions in soluble form or precipitation removes their antimicrobial activity.
  • Modeling Solution Drying by Moving a Liquid-Vapor Interface: Method and Applications
    Tang, Yanfei; McLaughlan, John E.; Grest, Gary S.; Cheng, Shengfeng (MDPI, 2022-09-23)
    A method of simulating the drying process of a soft matter solution with an implicit solvent model by moving the liquid-vapor interface is applied to various solution films and droplets. For a solution of a polymer and nanoparticles, we observe “polymer-on-top” stratification, similar to that found previously with an explicit solvent model. Furthermore, “polymer-on-top” is found even when the nanoparticle size is smaller than the radius of gyration of the polymer chains. For a suspension droplet of a bidisperse mixture of nanoparticles, we show that core-shell clusters of nanoparticles can be obtained via the “small-on-outside” stratification mechanism at fast evaporation rates. “Large-on-outside” stratification and uniform particle distribution are also observed when the evaporation rate is reduced. Polymeric particles with various morphologies, including Janus spheres, core-shell particles, and patchy particles, are produced from drying droplets of polymer solutions by combining fast evaporation with a controlled interaction between the polymers and the liquid-vapor interface. Our results validate the applicability of the moving interface method to a wide range of drying systems. The limitations of the method are pointed out and cautions are provided to potential practitioners on cases where the method might fail.
  • Editorial: Signaling Proteins for Endosomal and Lysosomal Function
    Capelluto, Daniel G. S.; Conde, Cecilia B.; Tumbarello, David A.; van den Bogaart, Geert (Frontiers, 2021-12-16)
  • Effects of homophily and heterophily on preferred-degree networks: mean-field analysis and overwhelming transition
    Li, Xiang; Mobilia, Mauro; Rucklidge, Alastair M.; Zia, R. K. P. (IOP Publishing, 2022-01-01)
    We investigate the long-time properties of a dynamic, out-of-equilibrium network of individuals holding one of two opinions in a population consisting of two communities of different sizes. Here, while the agents' opinions are fixed, they have a preferred degree which leads them to endlessly create and delete links. Our evolving network is shaped by homophily/heterophily, a form of social interaction by which individuals tend to establish links with others having similar/dissimilar opinions. Using Monte Carlo simulations and a detailed mean-field analysis, we investigate how the sizes of the communities and the degree of homophily/heterophily affect the network structure. In particular, we show that when the network is subject to enough heterophily, an 'overwhelming transition' occurs: individuals of the smaller community are overwhelmed by links from the larger group, and their mean degree greatly exceeds the preferred degree. This and related phenomena are characterized by the network's total and joint degree distributions, as well as the fraction of links across both communities and that of agents having fewer edges than the preferred degree. We use our mean-field theory to discuss the network's polarization when the group sizes and level of homophily vary.
  • The PH Domain and C-Terminal polyD Motif of Phafin2 Exhibit a Unique Concurrence in Animals
    Hasan, Mahmudul; Capelluto, Daniel G. S. (MDPI, 2022-07-07)
    Phafin2, a member of the Phafin family of proteins, contributes to a plethora of cellular activities including autophagy, endosomal cargo transportation, and macropinocytosis. The PH and FYVE domains of Phafin2 play key roles in membrane binding, whereas the C-terminal poly aspartic acid (polyD) motif specifically autoinhibits the PH domain binding to the membrane phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns3P). Since the Phafin2 FYVE domain also binds PtdIns3P, the role of the polyD motif remains unclear. In this study, bioinformatics tools and resources were employed to determine the concurrence of the PH-FYVE module with the polyD motif among Phafin2 and PH-, FYVE-, or polyD-containing proteins from bacteria to humans. FYVE was found to be an ancient domain of Phafin2 and is related to proteins that are present in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Interestingly, the polyD motif only evolved in Phafin2 and PH- or both PH-FYVE-containing proteins in animals. PolyD motifs are absent in PH domain-free FYVE-containing proteins, which usually display cellular trafficking or autophagic functions. Moreover, the prediction of the Phafin2-interacting network indicates that Phafin2 primarily cross-talks with proteins involved in autophagy, protein trafficking, and neuronal function. Taken together, the concurrence of the polyD motif with the PH domain may be associated with complex cellular functions that evolved specifically in animals.
  • Effect of Surface Porosity on SARS-CoV-2 Fomite Infectivity
    Hosseini, Mohsen; Poon, Leo L.M.; Chin, Alex W.H.; Ducker, William A. (ACS Publications, 2022-05-23)
    Previous reports indicated the low stability of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on various porous surfaces, but the role of porosity was unclear because there was no direct comparison between porous and nonporous solids of the same chemistry. Through comparing pairs of solids with very similar chemistry, we find that porosity is important: porous glass has a much lower infectivity than nonporous glass. However, porosity is not sufficient to lower infectivity; permeability, which is the ability of a liquid to move through a material, is the important parameter. We show this by comparing a pair of porous CuO coatings where the pores are accessible in one case and inaccessible in the other case. When the pores are inaccessible, the infectivity remains similar to that for nonporous solids. Thus, for both glass and CuO, it is the access to porosity that decreases the infectivity of extracted liquid droplets. Having established the importance of permeability, there is the open question of the mechanism of changing the infectivity of SARSCoV- 2. Several hypotheses are possible, such as increasing the difficulty of extracting the virus from the solid, changing the drying time, increasing the surface area of active ingredient, etc. Reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) measurements show that less viral DNA is extracted from a permeable surface, suggesting that the virus becomes trapped in the pores. Finally, we consider the effect of drying. We show that permeability and the water contact angle on the solid have effects on the drying time of a contaminated droplet, which may in turn affect infectivity.
  • Binding of regulatory proteins to nucleosomes is modulated by dynamic histone tails
    Peng, Yunhui; Li, Shuxiang; Onufriev, Alexey V.; Landsman, David; Panchenko, Anna R. (2021-09-06)
    Little is known about the roles of histone tails in modulating nucleosomal DNA accessibility and its recognition by other macromolecules. Here we generate extensive atomic level conformational ensembles of histone tails in the context of the full nucleosome, totaling 65 microseconds of molecular dynamics simulations. We observe rapid conformational transitions between tail bound and unbound states, and characterize kinetic and thermodynamic properties of histone tail-DNA interactions. Different histone types exhibit distinct binding modes to specific DNA regions. Using a comprehensive set of experimental nucleosome complexes, we find that the majority of them target mutually exclusive regions with histone tails on nucleosomal/linker DNA around the super-helical locations +/- 1, +/- 2, and +/- 7, and histone tails H3 and H4 contribute most to this process. These findings are explained within competitive binding and tail displacement models. Finally, we demonstrate the crosstalk between different histone tail post-translational modifications and mutations; those which change charge, suppress tail-DNA interactions and enhance histone tail dynamics and DNA accessibility. The intrinsic disorder of histone tails poses challenges in their characterization. Here the authors apply extensive molecular dynamics simulations of the full nucleosome to show reversible binding to DNA with specific binding modes of different types of histone tails, where charge-altering modifications suppress tail-DNA interactions and may boost interactions between nucleosomes and nucleosome-binding proteins.
  • Transparent and Sprayable Surface Coatings that Kill Drug-Resistant Bacteria within Minutes and Inactivate SARS-CoV-2 Virus
    Behzadinasab, Saeed; Williams, Myra D.; Hosseini, Mohsen; Poon, Leo L. M.; Chin, Alex W. H.; Falkinham, Joseph O. III; Ducker, William A. (American Chemical Society, 2021-11-24)
    Antimicrobial coatings are one method to reduce the spread of microbial diseases. Transparent coatings preserve the visual properties of surfaces and are strictly necessary for applications such as antimicrobial cell phone screens. This work describes transparent coatings that inactivate microbes within minutes. The coatings are based on a polydopamine (PDA) adhesive, which has the useful property that the monomer can be sprayed, and then the monomer polymerizes in a conformal film at room temperature. Two coatings are described (1) a coating where PDA is deposited first and then a thin layer of copper is grown on the PDA by electroless deposition (PDA/Cu) and (2) a coating where a suspension of Cu2O particles in a PDA solution is deposited in a single step (PDA/Cu2O). In the second coating, PDA menisci bind Cu2O particles to the solid surface. Both coatings are transparent and are highly efficient in inactivating microbes. PDA/Cu kills >99.99% of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and 99.18% of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in only 10 min and inactivates 99.98% of SARS-CoV-2 virus in 1 h. PDA/Cu2O kills 99.94% of P. aeruginosa and 96.82% of MRSA within 10 min and inactivates 99.88% of SARS-CoV-2 in 1 h.
  • The viability of SARS-CoV-2 on solid surfaces
    Hosseini, Mohsen; Behzadinasab, Saeed; Benmamoun, Zachary; Ducker, William A. (Elsevier, 2021-10-01)
    The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on life in 2020 and 2021. One method of transmission occurs when the causative virus, SARS-CoV-2, contaminates solids. Understanding and controlling the interaction with solids is thus potentially important for limiting the spread of the disease. We review work that describes the prevalence of the virus on common objects, the longevity of the virus on solids, and surface coatings that are designed to inactivate the virus. Engineered coatings have already succeeded in producing a large reduction in viral infectivity from surfaces. We also review work describing inactivation on facemasks and clothing and discuss probable mechanisms of inactivation of the virus at surfaces.
  • Mechanically cycling gelatin bilayers
    Hanzly, Laura E.; Chauhan, Natasha; Barone, Justin R. (2022-01-11)
    There is a growing interest in making stimuli-responsive polymer systems, particularly ones that are bio-inspired/biomimetic and could perform mechanical work. Here, a biological device made from gelatin is described that can mechanically cycle back and forth in response to solution pH or ionic strength changes. The gelatin bilayer has one layer of Type A gelatin and the other of Type B gelatin, which have 2 different isoelectric points and therefore ionization states at a given solution pH. The bilayer mechanically cycles back and forth when one layer swells more than the other layer, which occurs because of solution pH or ionic strength change. Maximum bilayer bending occurs at pH 10, when the Type B gelatin layer swells significantly more than the Type A layer. The results show the ability to use the unique properties of different sources of gelatin to design a simple biological machine.
  • Requirements for the containment of COVID-19 disease outbreaks through periodic testing, isolation, and quarantine
    Mukhamadiarov, Ruslan I.; Deng, Shengfeng; Serrao, Shannon R.; Priyanka; Childs, Lauren M.; Täuber, Uwe C. (IOP Publishing, 2022-01-21)
    We employ individual-based Monte Carlo computer simulations of a stochastic SEIR model variant on a two-dimensional Newman–Watts small-world network to investigate the control of epidemic outbreaks through periodic testing and isolation of infectious individuals, and subsequent quarantine of their immediate contacts. Using disease parameters informed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we investigate the effects of various crucial mitigation features on the epidemic spreading: fraction of the infectious population that is identifiable through the tests; testing frequency; time delay between testing and isolation of positively tested individuals; and the further time delay until quarantining their contacts as well as the quarantine duration. We thus determine the required ranges for these intervention parameters to yield effective control of the disease through both considerable delaying the epidemic peak and massively reducing the total number of sustained infections.