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Methods Mol Biol. 2006;340:235-49.

Electrostatic design of protein-protein association rates.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


De novo design and redesign of proteins and protein complexes have made promising progress in recent years. Here, we give an overview of how to use available computer-based tools to design proteins to bind faster and tighter to their protein-complex partner by electrostatic optimization between the two proteins. Electrostatic optimization is possible because of the simple relation between the Debye-Huckel energy of interaction between a pair of proteins and their rate of association. This can be used for rapid, structure-based calculations of the electrostatic attraction between the two proteins in the complex. Using these principles, we developed two computer programs that predict the change in k(on), and as such the affinity, on introducing charged mutations. The two programs have a web interface that is available at <webref type="url"></webref> and <webref type="url"></webref>. When mutations leading to charge optimization are introduced outside the physical binding site, the rate of dissociation is unchanged and therefore the change in k(on) parallels that of the affinity. This design method was evaluated on a number of different protein complexes resulting in binding rates and affinities of hundreds of fold faster and tighter compared to wild type. In this chapter, we demonstrate the procedure and go step by step over the methodology of using these programs for protein-association design. Finally, the way to easily implement the principle of electrostatic design for any protein complex of choice is shown.

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