alexa The subunit interfaces of weakly associated homodimeric proteins.


Biochemistry & Physiology: Open Access

Author(s): Dey S, Pal A, Chakrabarti P, Janin J

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Abstract We analyzed subunit interfaces in 315 homodimers with an X-ray structure in the Protein Data Bank, validated by checking the literature for data that indicate that the proteins are dimeric in solution and that, in the case of the "weak" dimers, the homodimer is in equilibrium with the monomer. The interfaces of the 42 weak dimers, which are smaller by a factor of 2.4 on average than in the remainder of the set, are comparable in size with antibody-antigen or protease-inhibitor interfaces. Nevertheless, they are more hydrophobic than in the average transient protein-protein complex and similar in amino acid composition to the other homodimer interfaces. The mean numbers of interface hydrogen bonds and hydration water molecules per unit area are also similar in homodimers and transient complexes. Parameters related to the atomic packing suggest that many of the weak dimer interfaces are loosely packed, and we suggest that this contributes to their low stability. To evaluate the evolutionary selection pressure on interface residues, we calculated the Shannon entropy of homologous amino acid sequences at 60\% sequence identity. In 93\% of the homodimers, the interface residues are better conserved than the residues on the protein surface. The weak dimers display the same high degree of interface conservation as other homodimers, but their homologs may be heterodimers as well as homodimers. Their interfaces may be good models in terms of their size, composition, and evolutionary conservation for the labile subunit contacts that allow protein assemblies to share and exchange components, allosteric proteins to undergo quaternary structure transitions, and molecular machines to operate in the cell. (c) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This article was published in J Mol Biol and referenced in Biochemistry & Physiology: Open Access

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