Molecular simulation to characterize the adsorption behavior of a fibrinogen gamma-chain fragment.
Implants invoke inflammatory responses from the body even if they are chemically inert and nontoxic. It has been shown that a crucial precedent event in the inflammatory process is the spontaneous adsorption of fibrinogen (Fg) on implant surfaces, which is typically followed by the presence of phagocytic cells. Interactions between the phagocyte integrin Mac-1 and two short sequences within the fibrinogen gamma chain, gamma190-202 and gamma377-395, may partially explain phagocyte accumulation at implant surfaces. These two sequences are believed to form an integrin binding site that is inaccessible when Fg is in its soluble-state structure but then becomes available for Mac-1 binding following adsorption, presumably due to adsorption-induced conformational changes. The objective of this research was to theoretically investigate this possibility by using molecular dynamics simulations of the gamma-chain fragment of Fg over self-assembled monolayer (SAM) surfaces presenting different types of surface chemistry. The GROMACS software package was used to carry out the molecular simulations in an explicit solvation environment over a 5 ns period of time. The adsorption of the gamma-chain of fibrinogen was simulated on five types of SAM surfaces. The simulations showed that this protein fragment exhibits distinctly different adsorption behavior on the different surface chemistries. Although the trajectory files showed that significant conformational changes did not occur in this protein fragment over the time frame of the simulations, it was predicted that the protein does undergo substantial rotational and translational motions over the surface prior to stabilizing in various preferred orientations. This suggests that the kinetics of surface-induced conformational changes in a protein's structure might be much slower than the kinetics of orientational changes, thus enabling the principles of adsorption thermodynamics to be used to guide adsorbing proteins into defined orientations on surfaces before large conformational changes can occur. This finding may be very important for biomaterial surface design as it suggests that surface chemistry can potentially be used to directly control the orientation of adsorbing proteins in a manner that either presents or hides specific bioactive sites contained within a protein's structure, thereby providing a mechanism to control cellular responses to the adsorbed protein layer.