Protein homooligomers afford several important benefits for the cell; they mediate and regulate gene expression, activity of many enzymes, ion channels, receptors, and cell-cell adhesion processes. The evolutionary and physical mechanisms of oligomer formation are very diverse and are not well understood. Certain homooligomeric states may be conserved within protein subfamilies and between different subfamilies, therefore providing the specificity to particular substrates while minimizing interactions with unwanted partners. In addition, transitions between different oligomeric states may regulate protein activity and support the switch between different pathways. In this chapter, we summarize the biological importance of homooligomeric assemblies, physicochemical properties of their interfaces, experimental methods for their identification, their evolution, and role in human diseases.
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