An overview of recent advances in structural bioinformatics of protein-protein interactions and a guide to their principles

Prog Biophys Mol Biol. Nov-Dec 2014;116(2-3):141-50. doi: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2014.07.004. Epub 2014 Jul 29.


Rich data bearing on the structural and evolutionary principles of protein-protein interactions are paving the way to a better understanding of the regulation of function in the cell. This is particularly the case when these interactions are considered in the framework of key pathways. Knowledge of the interactions may provide insights into the mechanisms of crucial 'driver' mutations in oncogenesis. They also provide the foundation toward the design of protein-protein interfaces and inhibitors that can abrogate their formation or enhance them. The main features to learn from known 3-D structures of protein-protein complexes and the extensive literature which analyzes them computationally and experimentally include the interaction details which permit undertaking structure-based drug discovery, the evolution of complexes and their interactions, the consequences of alterations such as post-translational modifications, ligand binding, disease causing mutations, host pathogen interactions, oligomerization, aggregation and the roles of disorder, dynamics, allostery and more to the protein and the cell. This review highlights some of the recent advances in these areas, including design, inhibition and prediction of protein-protein complexes. The field is broad, and much work has been carried out in these areas, making it challenging to cover it in its entirety. Much of this is due to the fast increase in the number of molecules whose structures have been determined experimentally and the vast increase in computational power. Here we provide a concise overview.

Keywords: Conformation; Evolution; Function; Interaction; Protein–protein complexes; Structure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Protein Interaction Mapping / methods*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Small Molecule Libraries / metabolism
  • Small Molecule Libraries / pharmacology


  • Proteins
  • Small Molecule Libraries