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Title

Detecting Selection on Protein Stability through Statistical Mechanical Models of Folding and Evolution

AuthorsBastolla, Ugo
KeywordsProtein folding
Misfolding
Negative design
Protein evolution
Natural selection
Issue Date16-Jul-2014
CitationBiomolecules 4 (1): 291-314 (2014)
AbstractThe properties of biomolecules depend both on physics and on the evolutionary process that formed them. These two points of view produce a powerful synergism. Physics sets the stage and the constraints that molecular evolution has to obey, and evolutionary theory helps in rationalizing the physical properties of biomolecules, including protein folding thermodynamics. To complete the parallelism, protein thermodynamics is founded on the statistical mechanics in the space of protein structures, and molecular evolution can be viewed as statistical mechanics in the space of protein sequences. In this review, we will integrate both points of view, applying them to detecting selection on the stability of the folded state of proteins. We will start discussing positive design, which strengthens the stability of the folded against the unfolded state of proteins. Positive design justifies why statistical potentials for protein folding can be obtained from the frequencies of structural motifs. Stability against unfolding is easier to achieve for longer proteins. On the contrary, negative design, which consists in destabilizing frequently formed misfolded conformations, is more difficult to achieve for longer proteins. The folding rate can be enhanced by strengthening short-range native interactions, but this requirement contrasts with negative design, and evolution has to trade-off between them. Finally, selection can accelerate functional movements by favoring low frequency normal modes of the dynamics of the native state that strongly correlate with the functional conformation change.
Publisher version (URL)http://doi.org/10.3390/biom4010291
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/99956
DOI10.3390/biom4010291
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