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J Bioinform Comput Biol. 2008 Aug;6(4):869-84.

Actin-binding proteins: how to reveal the conformational changes.

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Faculty of Biology, Moscow State University, GSP-1, 1 Leninskie Gory, Bld 12, 119991 Moscow, Russia.


Actin is the most abundant protein in eukaryotes. Under physiological conditions, it can polymerize into polarized filaments. At the heart of these processes are actin-binding proteins that stimulate actin assembly. Most of them are composed of multiple domains that perform both regulatory and signaling functions. Many actin-binding proteins, including WASP and formin family proteins, are auto-inhibited through intramolecular interactions that mask the actin-regulating sites of these proteins. The large flexible molecules of formins have so far eluded crystallization, and have been crystallized only partially. The information from the available crystal structures is valuable, but somewhat difficult to interpret without a larger framework on which to pose the actin-binding mechanism. Single-particle electron microscopy and electron tomography could provide such a large framework with the full-length structures of protein complexes. The recent advances in determining the molecular interactions in protein complexes predict that the molecular modeling and molecular dynamics methods could be employed to study conformational changes in molecules.

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