Geometric Predictors of Knotted and Linked Arcs

Joseph L. Sleiman, Robin H. Burton, Michele Caraglio, Yair Augusto Gutiérrez Fosado, D. Michieletto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Inspired by how certain proteins “sense” knots and entanglements in DNA molecules, here we ask if there exist local geometric features that may be used as a read-out of the underlying topology of generic polymers. We perform molecular simulations of knotted and linked semiflexbile polymers and study four geometric measures to predict topological entanglements: local curvature, local density, local 1D writhe and non-local 3D writhe. We discover that local curvature is a poor predictor of entanglements. In contrast, segments with maximum local density or writhe correlate as much as 90% of the time with the shortest knotted and linked arcs. We find that this accuracy is preserved
across different knot types and also under significant spherical confinement, which is known to delocalise essential crossings in knotted polymers. We further discover that non-local 3D writhe is the best geometric read-out of knot location. Finally, we discuss how these geometric features may be used to computationally analyse entanglements in generic polymer melts and gels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalACS Polymers Au
Issue number5
Early online date8 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2022


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