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Proteins. 2014 May;82(5):841-57. doi: 10.1002/prot.24462. Epub 2013 Nov 22.

Conformational changes in DNA-binding proteins: relationships with precomplex features and contributions to specificity and stability.

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Bioinformatics project, National Institute of Biomedical Innovation, 7-6-8 Saito-Asagi, Ibaraki City, Osaka 567-0085, Japan.


Both Proteins and DNA undergo conformational changes in order to form functional complexes and also to facilitate interactions with other molecules. These changes have direct implications for the stability and specificity of the complex, as well as the cooperativity of interactions between multiple entities. In this work, we have extensively analyzed conformational changes in DNA-binding proteins by superimposing DNA-bound and unbound pairs of protein structures in a curated database of 90 proteins. We manually examined each of these pairs, unified the authors' annotations, and summarized our observations by classifying conformational changes into six structural categories. We explored a relationship between conformational changes and functional classes, binding motifs, target specificity, biophysical features of unbound proteins, and stability of the complex. In addition, we have also investigated the degree to which the intrinsic flexibility can explain conformational changes in a subset of 52 proteins with high quality coordinate data. Our results indicate that conformational changes in DNA-binding proteins contribute significantly to both the stability of the complex and the specificity of targets recognized by them. We also conclude that most conformational changes occur in proteins interacting with specific DNA targets, even though unbound protein structures may have sufficient information to interact with DNA in a nonspecific manner.


DNA-binding proteins; DNA-target specificity; classification of proteins; conformational changes; intrinsic flexibility of proteins; protein-DNA interactions; stability

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