Source:Biophysical Journal, Biophysical Society, 99:3507–16, 2010
A simple coarse-grained model of mucus structure and dynamics is proposed and evaluated. The model is based on simple cubic, face-centered lattice representation. Mucins are simulated as lattice chains in which each bead of the model chains represents a mucin domain, equivalent to its Kuhn segment. The remaining lattice sites are considered to be occupied by the solvent. Model mucins consist of three types of domains: polar (glycosylated central segments), hydrophobic, and cysteine-rich, located at the terminal part of the mucin chains. The sequence of these domains mimics the sequence of real mucins. Static and dynamic properties of the system were studied by means of Monte Carlo dynamics. It was shown that the model system undergoes sol-gel transition and that the interactions between hydrophobic domains are responsible for the transition and characteristic properties of the dynamic network in the gel phase. Cysteine-rich domains are essential for frictional properties of the system. Structural and dynamic properties of the model mucus observed in simulations are in qualitative agreement with known experimental facts and provide mechanistic explanation of complex properties of real mucus.