Local motions in a benchmark of allosteric proteins

Michael D. Daily, Jeffrey J. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Allosteric proteins have been studied extensively in the last 40 years, but so far, no systematic analysis of conformational changes between allosteric structures has been carried out. Here, we compile a set of 51 pairs of known inactive and active allosteric protein structures from the Protein Data Bank. We calculate local conformational differences between the two structures of each protein using simple metrics, such as backbone and side-chain Cartesian displacement, and torsion angle change and rearrangement in residue-residue contacts. Thresholds for each metric arise from distributions of motions in two control sets of pairs of protein structures in the same biochemical state. Statistical analysis of motions in allosteric proteins quantifies the magnitude of allosteric effects and reveals simple structural principles about allostery. For example, allosteric proteins exhibit substantial conformational changes comprising about 20% of the residues. In addition, motions in allosteric proteins show strong bias toward weakly constrained regions such as loops and the protein surface. Correlation functions show that motions communicate through protein structures over distances averaging 10-20 residues in sequence space and 10-20 A in Cartesian space. Comparison of motions in the allosteric set and a set of 21 nonallosteric ligand-binding proteins shows that nonallosteric proteins also exhibit bias of motion toward weakly constrained regions and local correlation of motion. However, allosteric proteins exhibit twice as much percent motion on average as nonallosteric proteins with ligand-induced motion. These observations may guide efforts to design flexibility and allostery into proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-399
Number of pages15
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2007


  • Allosteric protein structure
  • Conformational change
  • Protein crystal structure database
  • Protein flexibility
  • Protein motion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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