Non-additivity in protein-protein interactions

J Mol Biol. 1987 Aug 5;196(3):733-5. doi: 10.1016/0022-2836(87)90045-3.


The energy of binding between proteins may be seen as the sum of the contributions of the individual amino acid residues. These contributions are additive when the binding energy, due to different amino acid residues, is independent of the interactions between amino acids in the same polypeptide chain. A measure of non-additivity is the coupling free energy. In this communication it is shown that: (1) the coupling free energy is the sum of intramolecular and intermolecular contributions; and (2), when additivity exists, experimentally determined values for the free energy of transfer of amino acids from water to the hydrophobic protein-protein interface are a very good approximation of their contribution to the energy of binding. Additivity cycles can be useful in determining the precise conditions where this approximation holds.

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Site
  • Binding Sites
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Proteins