Symmetry, stability, and dynamics of multidomain and multicomponent protein systems

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Dec 10;93(25):14243-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.93.25.14243.


Symmetry is commonly observed in many biological systems. Here we discuss representative examples of the role of symmetry in structural molecular biology. Point group symmetries are observed in many protein oligomers whose three-dimensional atomic structures have been elucidated by x-ray crystallography. Approximate symmetry also occurs in multidomain proteins. Symmetry often confers stability on the molecular system and results in economical usage of basic components to build the macromolecular structure. Symmetry is also associated with cooperativity. Mild perturbation from perfect symmetry may be essential in some systems for dynamic functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Protein Conformation*
  • Proteins / chemistry*


  • Proteins