Background: Protein-protein interactions are crucial for normal biological processes and to regulate cellular reactions that affect gene expression and function. Several previous studies have emphasized the roles of residues at the interface of protein-protein complexes in conferring stability and specificity to the complex. Interface residues in a protein are well known for their interactions with sidechain and main chain atoms with the interacting protein. However, the extent of intra-protein interactions involving interface residues in a protein-protein complex and their relative contribution in comparison to inter-protein interactions are not clearly understood. This paper probes this feature using a dataset of protein-protein complexes of known 3-D structure.
Results: We have analysed a dataset of 45 transient protein-protein complex structures with at least one of the interacting proteins with a known structure available also in the unbound form. We observe that a large proportion of interface residues (1608 out of 2137 interface residues, 75%) are involved in intra and inter-protein interactions simultaneously. The amino acid propensities of such interfacial residues involved in bifurcated interactions are found to be highly similar to the general propensities to occur at protein-protein interfaces. Finally, we observe that a majority (83%) of intra-protein interactions of interface residues with bifurcated interactions, are also observed in the protein uncomplexed form.
Conclusions: We have shown, to the best of our knowledge for the first time, that a vast majority of the protein-protein interface residues are involved in extensive intra-protein interactions apart from inter-protein interactions. For a majority of such interface residues the microenvironment in the tertiary structure is pre-formed and retained upon complex formation with its cognate partner during transient interactions.
Reviewers: This article was reviewed by Arumay Pal and Mallur Madhusudhan.
Keywords: Interfacial residues; Molecular interactions; Molecular recognition; Protein interactions; Protein-protein complexes; Protein-protein interfaces.