Using the numerical model of Scheutjens and Fleer, we investigated, on a self-consistent field level, the equilibrium structure of the neurofilament brush formed by projection domains of the constituent NF-H, NF-M, and NF-L proteins. The phosphorylation of such a brush is a major regulatory process that triggers the relocation of the H tails from the NF core to the brush periphery. We explore how the pH and the ionic strength affect the rearrangements in the NF brush structure upon phosphorylation. We demonstrate that the translocation of H tails in an individual NF occurs as a sharp cooperative transition below and up to the physiological salt concentration. Regularities of this process are reminiscent of the collapse-to-stretching transition in a cylindrical polyelectrolyte brush in a poor solvent. The effect of pH at physiological ionic strength is noticeable only in the acidic range and is more pronounced for a dephosphorylated NF.
- molecular architecture
- l protein