The dark energy of proteins comes to light: conformational entropy and its role in protein function revealed by NMR relaxation.
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Historically it has been virtually impossible to experimentally determine the contribution of residual protein entropy to fundamental protein activities such as the binding of ligands. Recent progress has illuminated the possibility of employing NMR relaxation methods to quantitatively determine the role of changes in conformational entropy in molecular recognition by proteins. The method rests on using fast internal protein dynamics as a proxy. Initial results reveal a large and variable role for conformational entropy in the binding of ligands by proteins. Such a role for conformational entropy in molecular recognition has significant implications for enzymology, signal transduction, allosteric regulation and the development of protein-directed pharmaceuticals.
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