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Variations in Clique and Community Patterns in Protein Structures during Allosteric Communication: Investigation of Dynamically Equilibrated Structures of Methionyl tRNA Synthetase Complexes

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journal contribution
posted on 04.11.2008 by Amit Ghosh, Saraswathi Vishveshwara
The allosteric concept has played a key role in understanding the biological functions of proteins. The rigidity or plasticity and the conformational population are the two important ideas invoked in explaining the allosteric effect. Although molecular insights have been gained from a large number of structures, a precise assessment of the ligand-induced conformational changes in proteins at different levels, ranging from gross topology to intricate details, remains a challenge. In this study, we have explored the conformational changes in the complexes of methionyl tRNA synthetase (MetRS) through novel network parameters such as cliques and communities, which identify the rigid regions in the protein structure networks (PSNs) constructed from the noncovalent interactions of amino acid side chains. MetRS belongs to the aminoacyl tRNA synthetase (aaRS) family that plays a crucial role in the translation of genetic code. These enzymes are modular with distinct domains from which extensive genetic, kinetic, and structural data are available, highlighting the role of interdomain communication. The network parameters evaluated here on the conformational ensembles of MetRS complexes, generated from molecular dynamics simulations, have enabled us to understand the interdomain communication in detail. Additionally, the characterization of conformational changes in terms of cliques and communities has also become possible, which had eluded conventional analyses. Furthermore, we find that most of the residues participating in cliques and communities are strikingly different from those that take part in long-range communication. The cliques and communities evaluated here for the first time on PSNs have beautifully captured the local geometries in detail within the framework of global topology. Here the allosteric effect is revealed at the residue level via identification of the important residues specific for structural rigidity and functional flexibility in MetRS. This ought to enhance our understanding of the functioning of aaRS in general.