An automated approach to network features of protein structure ensembles


Correspondence to: Saraswathi Vishveshwara, Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India. E-mail:


Network theory applied to protein structures provides insights into numerous problems of biological relevance. The explosion in structural data available from PDB and simulations establishes a need to introduce a standalone-efficient program that assembles network concepts/parameters under one hood in an automated manner. Herein, we discuss the development/application of an exhaustive, user-friendly, standalone program package named PSN-Ensemble, which can handle structural ensembles generated through molecular dynamics (MD) simulation/NMR studies or from multiple X-ray structures. The novelty in network construction lies in the explicit consideration of side-chain interactions among amino acids. The program evaluates network parameters dealing with topological organization and long-range allosteric communication. The introduction of a flexible weighing scheme in terms of residue pairwise cross-correlation/interaction energy in PSN-Ensemble brings in dynamical/chemical knowledge into the network representation. Also, the results are mapped on a graphical display of the structure, allowing an easy access of network analysis to a general biological community. The potential of PSN-Ensemble toward examining structural ensemble is exemplified using MD trajectories of an ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (UbcH5b). Furthermore, insights derived from network parameters evaluated using PSN-Ensemble for single-static structures of active/inactive states of β2-adrenergic receptor and the ternary tRNA complexes of tyrosyl tRNA synthetases (from organisms across kingdoms) are discussed. PSN-Ensemble is freely available from