Hot spots for allosteric regulation on protein surfaces

Cell. 2011 Dec 23;147(7):1564-75. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.10.049.


Recent work indicates a general architecture for proteins in which sparse networks of physically contiguous and coevolving amino acids underlie basic aspects of structure and function. These networks, termed sectors, are spatially organized such that active sites are linked to many surface sites distributed throughout the structure. Using the metabolic enzyme dihydrofolate reductase as a model system, we show that: (1) the sector is strongly correlated to a network of residues undergoing millisecond conformational fluctuations associated with enzyme catalysis, and (2) sector-connected surface sites are statistically preferred locations for the emergence of allosteric control in vivo. Thus, sectors represent an evolutionarily conserved "wiring" mechanism that can enable perturbations at specific surface positions to rapidly initiate conformational control over protein function. These findings suggest that sectors enable the evolution of intermolecular communication and regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation*
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Models, Molecular*
  • PDZ Domains
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase / chemistry
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase / metabolism


  • Proteins
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase