Indexed on: 10 Nov '10Published on: 10 Nov '10Published in: Molecular BioSystems
Allosteric proteins demonstrate the phenomenon of a ligand binding to a protein at a regulatory or effector site and thereby changing the chemical affinity of the catalytic site. As such, allostery is extremely important biologically as a regulatory mechanism for molecular concentrations in many cellular processes. One particularly interesting feature of allostery is that often the catalytic and effector sites are separated by a large distance. Structural comparisons of allosteric proteins resolved in both inactive and active states indicate that a variety of structural rearrangement and changes in motions may contribute to general allosteric behavior. In general it is expected that the coupling of catalytic and regulatory sites is responsible for allosteric behavior. We utilize a novel examination of allostery using rigidity analysis of the underlying graph of the protein structures. Our results indicate a general global change in rigidity associated with allosteric transitions where the R state is more rigid than the T state. A set of allosteric proteins with heterotropic interactions is used to test the hypothesis that catalytic and effector sites are structurally coupled. Observation of a rigid path connecting the effector and catalytic sites in 68.75% of the structures points to rigidity as a means by which the distal sites communicate with each other and so contribute to allosteric regulation. Thus structural rigidity is shown to be a fundamental underlying property that promotes cooperativity and non-locality seen in allostery.