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PLoS Comput Biol. 2011 Sep;7(9):e1002148. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002148. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

Binding leverage as a molecular basis for allosteric regulation.

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Computational Biology Unit/UNI Research, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.


Allosteric regulation involves conformational transitions or fluctuations between a few closely related states, caused by the binding of effector molecules. We introduce a quantity called binding leverage that measures the ability of a binding site to couple to the intrinsic motions of a protein. We use Monte Carlo simulations to generate potential binding sites and either normal modes or pairs of crystal structures to describe relevant motions. We analyze single catalytic domains and multimeric allosteric enzymes with complex regulation. For the majority of the analyzed proteins, we find that both catalytic and allosteric sites have high binding leverage. Furthermore, our analysis of the catabolite activator protein, which is allosteric without conformational change, shows that its regulation involves other types of motion than those modulated at sites with high binding leverage. Our results point to the importance of incorporating dynamic information when predicting functional sites. Because it is possible to calculate binding leverage from a single crystal structure it can be used for characterizing proteins of unknown function and predicting latent allosteric sites in any protein, with implications for drug design.

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