Hydrophobins represent an important group of proteins from both a biological and nanotechnological standpoint. They are the means through which filamentous fungi affect their environment to promote growth, and their properties at interfaces have resulted in numerous applications. In our study we have combined protein docking, molecular dynamics simulation, and electron cryo-microscopy to gain atomistic level insight into the surface structure of films composed of two class II hydrophobins: HFBI and HFBII produced by Trichoderma reesei. Together our results suggest a unit cell composed of six proteins; however, our computational results suggest P6 symmetry, while our experimental results show P3 symmetry with a unit cell size of 56 Å. Our computational results indicate the possibility of an alternate ordering with a three protein unit cell with P3 symmetry and a smaller unit cell size, and we have used a Monte Carlo simulation of a spin model representing the hydrophobin film to show how this alternate metastable structure may play a role in increasing the rate of surface coverage by hydrophobin films, possibly indicating a mechanism of more general significance to both biology and nanotechnology.
Magarkar, A., Mele, N., Abdel-Rahman, N., Butcher, S., Torkkeli, M., Serimaa, R., Paananen, A., Linder, M., & Bunker, A. (2014). Hydrophobin Film Structure for HFBI and HFBII and Mechanism for Accelerated Film Formation. PLoS Computational Biology, 10(7), [e1003745]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003745