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Signatures of the Protein Folding Pathway in Two-Dimensional Ultraviolet Spectroscopy.

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The function of protein relies on their folding to assume the proper structure. Probing the structural variations during the folding process is crucial for understanding the underlying mechanism. We present a combined quantum mechanics/molecular dynamics simulation study that demonstrates how coherent resonant nonlinear ultraviolet spectra can be used to follow the fast folding dynamics of a mini-protein, Trp-cage. Two dimensional ultraviolet signals of the backbone transitions carry rich information of both local (secondary) and global (tertiary) structures. The complexity of signals decreases as the conformational entropy decreases in the course of the folding process. We show that the approximate entropy of the signals provides a quantitative marker of protein folding status, accessible by both theoretical calculations and experiments.

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