Recent experiments have suggested that enzymes and other small molecules chemotax toward their substrates. However, the physical forces driving this chemotaxis are currently debated. In this work, we consider a simple thermodynamic theory for molecular chemotaxis that is based on the McMillan-Mayer theory of dilute solutions and Schellman’s theory for macromolecular binding. Even in the absence of direct interactions, the chemical binding equilibrium introduces a coupling term into the relevant free energy, which then reduces the chemical potential of both enzymes and their substrates. Assuming a local thermodynamic equilibrium, this binding contribution to the chemical potential generates an effective thermodynamic force that promotes chemotaxis by driving each solute toward its binding partner. Our numerical simulations demonstrate that, although small, this thermodynamic force is qualitatively consistent with several experimental studies. Thus, our study may provide additional insight into the role of the thermodynamic binding free energy for molecular chemotaxis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry