Classical investigation of long-range coherence in biological systems

Author: Preto, J.
Department of Oncology, 3-336, Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 1Z2, Canada
Conference/Journal: Chaos
Date published: 16 Dec 2016
Other: Volume ID: 26 , Special Notes: , Word Count: 317

Almost five decades ago, H. Fröhlich [H. Fröhlich, “Long-range coherence and energy storage in biological systems,” Int. J. Quantum Chem. 2(5), 641–649 (1968)] reported, on a theoretical basis, that the excitation of quantum modes of vibration in contact with a thermal reservoir may lead to steady states, where under high enough rate of energy supply, only specific low-frequency modes of vibration are strongly excited. This nonlinear phenomenon was predicted to occur in biomolecular systems, which are known to exhibit complex vibrational spectral properties, especially in the terahertz frequency domain. However, since the effects of terahertz or lower-frequency modes are mainly classical at physiological temperatures, there are serious doubts that Fröhlich's quantum description can be applied to predict such a coherent behavior in a biological environment, as suggested by the author. In addition, a quantum formalism makes the phenomenon hard to investigate using realistic molecular dynamics simulations (MD) as they are usually based on the classical principles. In the current paper, we provide a general classical Hamiltonian description of a nonlinear open system composed of many degrees of freedom (biomolecular structure) excited by an external energy source. It is shown that a coherent behaviour similar to Fröhlich's effect is to be expected in the classical case for a given range of parameter values. Thus, the supplied energy is not completely thermalized but stored in a highly ordered fashion. The connection between our Hamiltonian description, carried out in the space of normal modes, and a more standard treatment in the physical space is emphasized in order to facilitate the prediction of the effect from MD simulations. It is shown how such a coherent phenomenon may induce long-range resonance effects that could be of critical importance at the biomolecular level. The present work is motivated by recent experimental evidences of long-lived excited low-frequency modes in protein structures, which were reported as a consequence of the Fröhlich's effect.