Domain-domain interactions in multi-domain proteins play an important role in the combined function of individual domains for the overall biological activity of the protein. The functions of the tethered domains are often coupled and hence, limited numbers of domain architectures with defined folds are known in nature. Therefore, it is of interest to document the available fold-fold combinations and their preference in multi-domain proteins. Hence, we analyzed all multi-domain proteins with known structures in the protein databank and observed that only about 860 fold-fold combinations are present among them. Analyses of multi-domain proteins represented in sequence database result in recognition of 29,860 fold-fold combinations and it accounts for only 2.8% of the theoretically possible 1,036,080 (1439C2) fold-fold combinations. The observed preference for fold-fold combinations in multi-domain proteins is interesting in the context of multiple functions through structural adaptation by gene fusion.
Keywords: domain architecture; domain folds; multi-domain proteins; protein evolution; protein structure.