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Protein evolution by numbers
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A new mechanical model of protein dynamics could help pharmaceutical companies better understand how drugs bind to their targets.
An international team led by researchers from the Institute for Basic Science used a mathematical tool called the Green function to relate how strings of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — physically interact with each other to bend, twist and otherwise shape proteins into functional three-dimensional units.
This model treats proteins like an elastic network of rigid and flexible amino acids connected by molecular springs. The motions of certain regions then allow proteins to effectively bind to other molecules, although mutations can alter that capacity.
This mechanical view of proteins as evolving machines could reveal new unifying principles of protein biology as well as help drug design.
- PNAS USA 115, E4559–E4568 (2018). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1716215115