Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures


Oxidative Species Induced Excitonic Transport in Biomolecular Aromatic Networks

Event Location / Date(s)

Los Angeles, CA

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Presentation Date


Conference Name / Publication Title

American Physical Society (APS) March Meeting 2018


Oxidative stress is a pathological hallmark of degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, which are characterized by altered forms of the microtubule-associated protein (MAP) tau. The precise role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the disease process, however, is poorly understood. It is known that the production of ROS by mitochondria can result in ultraweak photon emission (UPE) within cells, and surrounding biomolecules can absorb these photons via aromatic amino acids (e.g., tryptophan and tyrosine). One likely absorber is the microtubule cytoskeleton, as it forms a vast network spanning neurons, is highly co-localized with mitochondria, and shows a high density of aromatics, but DNA and the photoactive receptors in the mitochondrial membrane are also potential candidates. These networks may traffic ROS-generated endogenous photon energy for cellular signaling, or they may serve as dissipaters of such energy to protect the cell from potentially harmful effects. Recent modeling efforts based on ambient temperature experiment are presented, showing that such biopolymers can feasibly absorb and channel these photoexcitations via resonance energy transfer, on mesoscopic length scales of physiological significance.