Remarkable features that are achieved in a protein-protein complex to precise levels are stability and specificity. Deviation from the normal levels of specificity and stability, which is often caused by mutations, could result in disease conditions. Chemical nature, 3-D arrangement and dynamics of interface residues code for both specificity and stability. This article reviews roles of interfacial residues in transient protein-protein complexes. It is proposed that aside from hotspot residues conferring stability to the complex, a small set of 'rigid' residues at the interface that maintain conformation between complexed and uncomplexed forms, play a major role in conferring specificity. Exceptionally, 'super hotspot' residues, which confer both stability and specificity, are attractive sites for interaction with small molecule inhibitors.
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