The Laboratoire International Associé between the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was launched at the end of 2012. Its primary objective is to develop methods for high-performance molecular simulation with the aim of understanding the function of complex biological assemblies, transcending the frontiers of traditional disciplines by uniting mathematicians, physicists, theoretical chemists and biologists on both sides of the Atlantic. In France, the major contributors are located at the Université de Lorraine, the École des Ponts ParisTech, the Institut de Biologie et Chimie des Protéines-Université Claude Bernard and the Laboratoire d'Ingénierie des Systèmes Macromoléculaires-Université d'Aix-Marseille. In the United States, the contributors belong to the NIH Resource for Macromolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics. In Nancy, the partner is a theoretical chemistry and biophysics group incepted in 2003. Its expertise lies in describing the structure and the dynamic properties of the biological membrane and elucidating the mechanisms of the cell machinery. To attain this goal, its members leverage numerical simulations over size and timescales commensurate with the biological process at hand. Over the years, the team has gleaned milestone results in such diverse research areas as membrane transport, interaction with the biological membrane, membrane protein structure and function, as well as self-organized molecular systems. They also develop original approaches in the field of free-energy calculations, as well as that of intermolecular potentials.
From Material Science to Avant-Garde Cuisine. The Art of Shaping Liquids into Spheres. Employing avant-garde cuisine techniques, in particular sodium alginates, liquid food can be shaped into spheres, thereby conferring to the former original and sometimes unexpected forms and textures. To achieve this result, rational understanding of the science that underlies food physical chemistry is of paramount importance. In this contribution, the process of spherification is dissected for the first time at the atomic level by means of classical molecular dynamics simulations. Our results show that a thin membrane consisting of intertwined alginate chains forms in an aqueous solution containing calcium ions, thereby encapsulating in a sphere the aliment in its liquid state. They also show why the polysaccharide chains will not cohere into such a membrane in a solution of sodium ions. Analysis of the trajectories reveals the emergence of so-called egg-box spatial arrangements, which connect the alginate chains by means of repeated chelation of one calcium ion by two carboxylate groups. Free-energy calculations delineating the formation of these egg-box structures further illuminate the remarkable stability of such tridimensional organizations, which ensures at room temperature the spontaneous growth of the polysaccharide membrane. Spherification has been also examined for liquid aliments of different nature, modeled by charged, hydrophilic and hydrophobic compounds. The membrane-encapsulated food is shaped into robust and durable spheres, irrespective of the liquid core material. By reconciling the views of spherification at small and large scales, the present study lays the groundwork for the rational design of innovative cooking techniques relevant to avant-garde cuisine. J. Phys. Chem. B 2014.
Evidence of conducting hydrophobic nanopores across membranes in response to an electric field
J. Phys. Chem. C
2014, 118 (13), 6752-6757.
Liu, Y.; Chipot, C.; Shao, X.; Cai, W.
Threading or tumbling? Insight into the self-inclusion mechanism of an altro-α-cyclodextrin derivative
J. Phys. Chem. C
2014, 118 (33), 19380-19386.
Liu, P.; Chipot, C.; Cai, W.; Shao, X.
Unveiling the underlying mechanism for compression and decompression strokes of a molecular engine
J. Phys. Chem. C
2014, 118 (23), 12562-12567.
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