Indirect Readout in Protein-Peptide Recognition: A Different Story from Classical Biomolecular Recognition

Protein-peptide interactions are prevalent and play essential roles in many living activities. Peptides recognize their protein partners by direct nonbonded interactions and indirect adjustment of conformations. Although processes of protein-peptide recognition have been comprehensively studied in both sequences and structures recently, flexibility of peptides and the configuration entropy penalty in recognition did not get enough attention. In this study, 20 protein-peptide complexes and their corresponding unbound peptides were investigated by molecular dynamics simulations. Energy analysis revealed that configurational entropy penalty introduced by restriction of the degrees of freedom of peptides in indirect readout process of protein-peptide recognition is significant. Configurational entropy penalty has become the main content of the indirect readout energy in protein-peptide recognition instead of deformation energy which is the main source of the indirect readout energy in classical biomolecular recognition phenomena, such as protein–DNA binding. These results provide us a better understanding of protein-peptide recognition and give us some implications in peptide ligand design.