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Protein Eng. 1999 Apr;12(4):271-83.

An analysis of conformational changes on protein-protein association: implications for predictive docking.

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Biomolecular Modelling Laboratory, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3PX, UK.


Conformational changes on complex formation have been measured for 39 pairs of structures of complexed proteins and unbound equivalents, averaged over interface and non-interface regions and for individual residues. We evaluate their significance by comparison with the differences seen in 12 pairs of independently solved structures of identical proteins, and find that just over half have some substantial overall movement. Movements involve main chains as well as side chains, and large changes in the interface are closely involved with complex formation, while those of exposed non-interface residues are caused by flexibility and disorder. Interface movements in enzymes are similar in extent to those of inhibitors. All eight of the complexes (six enzyme-inhibitor and two antibody-antigen) that have structures of both components in an unbound form available show some significant interface movement. However, predictive docking is successful even when some of the largest changes occur. We note however that the situation may be different in systems other than the enzyme-inhibitors which dominate this study. Thus the general model is induced fit but, because there is only limited conformational change in many systems, recognition can be treated as lock and key to a first approximation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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