Entropy Hotspots for the Binding of Intrinsically Disordered Ligands to a Receptor Domain. Academic Article uri icon


  • Proline-rich motifs (PRMs) are widely used for mediating protein-protein interactions with weak binding affinities. Because they are intrinsically disordered when unbound, conformational entropy plays a significant role for the binding. However, residue-level differences of the entropic contribution in the binding of different ligands remain not well understood. We use all-atom molecular dynamics simulation and the maximal information spanning tree formalism to analyze conformational entropy associated with the binding of two PRMs, one from the Abl kinase and the other from the nonstructural protein 1 of the 1918 Spanish influenza A virus, to the N-terminal SH3 (nSH3) domain of the CrkII protein. Side chains of the stably folded nSH3 experience more entropy change upon ligand binding than the backbone, whereas PRMs involve comparable but heterogeneous entropy changes among the backbone and side chains. In nSH3, two conserved nonpolar residues forming contacts with the PRM experience the largest side-chain entropy loss. In contrast, the C-terminal charged residues of PRMs that form polar contacts with nSH3 experience the greatest side-chain entropy loss, although their "fuzzy" nature is attributable to the backbone that remains relatively flexible. Thus, residues that form high-occupancy contacts between nSH3 and PRM do not reciprocally contribute to entropy loss. Furthermore, certain surface residues of nSH3 distal to the interface with PRMs gain entropy, indicating a nonlocal effect of ligand binding. Comparing between the PRMs from cAbl and nonstructural protein 1, the latter involves a larger side-chain entropy loss and forms more contacts with nSH3. Consistent with experiments, this indicates stronger binding of the viral ligand at the expense of losing the flexibility of side chains, whereas the backbone experiences less entropy loss. The entropy "hotspots" as identified in this study will be important for tuning the binding affinity of various ligands to a receptor.

published proceedings

  • Biophys J

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Shi, J., Shen, Q., Cho, J., & Hwang, W.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Shi, Jie||Shen, Qingliang||Cho, Jae-Hyun||Hwang, Wonmuk

publication date

  • January 2020