Epistructural tension promotes protein associations

Phys Rev Lett. 2012 May 4;108(18):188102. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.188102. Epub 2012 May 4.


Epistructural tension is the reversible work per unit area required to span the aqueous interface of a soluble protein structure. The parameter accounts for the free-energy cost of imperfect hydration, involving water molecules with a shortage of hydrogen-bonding partnerships relative to bulk levels. The binding hot spots along protein-protein interfaces are identified with residues that contribute significantly to the epistructural tension in the free subunits. Upon association, such residues either displace or become deprived of low-coordination vicinal water molecules.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Insulin / chemistry
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Surface Properties
  • Thermodynamics
  • Water / chemistry


  • Insulin
  • Proteins
  • Water