Jiangyan Feng and Diwakar Shukla
The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, Volume 122, Issue 3, Pages 1017–1025, 2018.
Publication year: 2018


Understanding of protein conformational dynamics is essential for elucidating molecular origins of protein structure–function relationship. Traditionally, reaction coordinates, i.e., some functions of protein atom positions and velocities have been used to interpret the complex dynamics of proteins obtained from experimental and computational approaches such as molecular dynamics simulations. However, it is nontrivial to identify the reaction coordinates a priori even for small proteins. Here, we evaluate the power of evolutionary couplings (ECs) to capture protein dynamics by exploring their use as reaction coordinates, which can efficiently guide the sampling of a conformational free energy landscape. We have analyzed 10 diverse proteins and shown that a few ECs are sufficient to characterize complex conformational dynamics of proteins involved in folding and conformational change processes. With the rapid strides in sequencing technology, we expect that ECs could help identify reaction coordinates a priori and enhance the sampling of the slow dynamical process associated with protein folding and conformational change.

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