We show that electrostatic fluctuations of the protein-water interface are globally non-Gaussian. The electrostatic component of the optical transition energy (energy gap) in a hydrated green fluorescent protein is studied here by classical molecular dynamics simulations. The distribution of the energy gap displays a high excess in the breadth of electrostatic fluctuations over the prediction of the Gaussian statistics. The energy gap dynamics include a nanosecond component. When simulations are repeated with frozen protein motions, the statistics shifts to the expectations of linear response and the slow dynamics disappear. We therefore suggest that both the non-Gaussian statistics and the nanosecond dynamics originate largely from global, low-frequency motions of the protein coupled to the interfacial water. The non-Gaussian statistics can be experimentally verified from the temperature dependence of the first two spectral moments measured at constant-volume conditions. Simulations at different temperatures are consistent with other indicators of the non-Gaussian statistics. In particular, the high-temperature part of the energy gap variance (second spectral moment) scales linearly with temperature and extrapolates to zero at a temperature characteristic of the protein glass transition. This result, violating the classical limit of the fluctuation-dissipation theorem, leads to a non-Boltzmann statistics of the energy gap and corresponding non-Arrhenius kinetics of radiationless electronic transitions, empirically described by the Vogel-Fulcher-Tammann law.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry