Coupling dynamics and evolutionary information with structure to identify protein regulatory and functional binding sites

Proteins. 2019 Oct;87(10):850-868. doi: 10.1002/prot.25749. Epub 2019 Jun 22.


Binding sites in proteins can be either specifically functional binding sites (active sites) that bind specific substrates with high affinity or regulatory binding sites (allosteric sites), that modulate the activity of functional binding sites through effector molecules. Owing to their significance in determining protein function, the identification of protein functional and regulatory binding sites is widely acknowledged as an important biological problem. In this work, we present a novel binding site prediction method, Active and Regulatory site Prediction (AR-Pred), which supplements protein geometry, evolutionary, and physicochemical features with information about protein dynamics to predict putative active and allosteric site residues. As the intrinsic dynamics of globular proteins plays an essential role in controlling binding events, we find it to be an important feature for the identification of protein binding sites. We train and validate our predictive models on multiple balanced training and validation sets with random forest machine learning and obtain an ensemble of discrete models for each prediction type. Our models for active site prediction yield a median area under the curve (AUC) of 91% and Matthews correlation coefficient (MCC) of 0.68, whereas the less well-defined allosteric sites are predicted at a lower level with a median AUC of 80% and MCC of 0.48. When tested on an independent set of proteins, our models for active site prediction show comparable performance to two existing methods and gains compared to two others, while the allosteric site models show gains when tested against three existing prediction methods. AR-Pred is available as a free downloadable package at

Keywords: active sites; allostery; coarse-graining; elastic network models; machine learning; proteins dynamics; regulatory sites.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Allosteric Site
  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Binding Sites
  • Databases, Protein
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism*


  • Proteins