Molecular Insight into the Self-Assembly Process of Cellulose Iβ Microfibril
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The self-assembly process of β-D-glucose oligomers on the surface of cellulose Iβ microfibril involves crystallization, and this process is analyzed herein, in terms of the length and flexibility of the oligomer chain, by means of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The characterization of this process involves the structural relaxation of the oligomer, the recognition of the cellulose I microfibril, and the formation of several hydrogen bonds (HBs). This process is monitored on the basis of the changes in non-bonded energies and the interaction with hydrophilic and hydrophobic crystal faces. The oligomer length is considered a parameter for capturing insight into the energy landscape and its stability in the bound form with the cellulose I microfibril. We notice that the oligomer–microfibril complexes are more stable by increasing the number of hydrogen bond interactions, which is consistent with a gain in electrostatic energy. Our studies highlight the interaction with hydrophilic crystal planes on the microfibril and the acceptor role of the flexible oligomers in HB formation. In addition, we study by MD simulation the interaction between a protofibril and the cellulose I microfibril in solution. In this case, the main interaction consists of the formation of hydrogen bonds between hydrophilic faces, and those HBs involve donor groups in the protofibril.