Protein-protein interactions in a crowded environment. Academic Article uri icon


  • Protein-protein interactions are important in many essential biological functions, such as transcription, translation, and signal transduction. Much progress has been made in understanding protein-protein association in dilute solution via experimentation and simulation. Cells, however, contain various macromolecules, such as DNA, RNA, proteins, among many others, and a myriad of non-specific interactions (usually weak) are present between these cellular constituents. In this review article, we describe the important developments in recent years that have furthered our understanding and even allowed prediction of the consequences of macromolecular crowding on protein-protein interactions. We outline the development of our crowding theory that can predict the change in binding free energy due to crowding quantitatively for both repulsive and attractive protein-crowder interactions. One of the most important findings from our recent work is that weak attractive interactions between crowders and proteins can actually destabilize protein complex formation as opposed to the commonly assumed stabilizing effect predicted based on traditional crowding theories that only account for the entropic-excluded volume effects. We also discuss the implications of macromolecular crowding on the population of encounter versus specific native complex.

published proceedings

  • Biophys Rev

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Bhattacharya, A., Kim, Y. C., & Mittal, J.

citation count

  • 32

complete list of authors

  • Bhattacharya, Apratim||Kim, Young C||Mittal, Jeetain

publication date

  • June 2013