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J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2019 Sep 9:1-20. doi: 10.1080/07391102.2019.1657040. [Epub ahead of print]

Small protein-protein interfaces rich in electrostatic are often linked to regulatory function.

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Biomedical Informatics (P) Ltd. , Pondicherry , India.
School of Biosciences & Technology, VIT University , Vellore , Tamil Nadu , India.
National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) , Bangalore , India.
College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, Saskatchewan University , Saskatchewan , Canada.


Protein-protein interaction (PPI) is critical for several biological functions in living cells through the formation of an interface. Therefore, it is of interest to characterize protein-protein interfaces using an updated non-redundant structural dataset of 2557 homo (identical subunits) and 393 hetero (different subunits) dimer protein complexes determined by X-ray crystallography. We analyzed the interfaces using van der Waals (vdW), hydrogen bonding and electrostatic energies. Results show that on average homo and hetero interfaces are similar. Hence, we further grouped the 2950 interfaces based on percentage vdW to total energies into dominant (≥60%) and sub-dominant (<60%) vdW interfaces. Majority (92%) of interfaces have dominant vdW energy with large interface size (146 ± 87 (homo) and 137 ± 76 (hetero) residues) and interface area (1622 ± 1135 Å2 (homo) and 1579 ± 1060 Å2 (hetero)). However, a proportion (8%) of interfaces have sub-dominant vdW energy with small interface size (85 ± 46 (homo) and 88 ± 36 (hetero) residues) and interface area (823 ± 538 Å2 (homo) and 881 ± 377 Å2 (hetero)). It is found that large interfaces have two-fold more interface area and interface size than small interfaces with increasing hydrogen bonding energy to interface size. However, small interfaces have three-fold more electrostatics energy than large interfaces with increasing electrostatics to interface size. Thus, 8% of complexes having small interfaces with limited interface area and sub-dominant vdW energy are rich in electrostatics. It is interesting to observe that complexes having small interfaces are often associated with regulatory function. Hence, the observed structural features with known molecular function provide insights for the better understanding of PPI. Communicated by Ramaswamy H. Sarma.


H-bonds; Interface; electrostatic; interface area; protein–protein interaction; van der Waals (vdW)

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