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Keywords:

  • molecular dynamics;
  • protein motion;
  • residue coupling;
  • correlation analysis;
  • allostery

Abstract

A new method for analyzing the dynamics of proteins is developed and tested. The method, pump-probe molecular dynamics, excites selected atoms or residues with a set of oscillating forces, and the transmission of the impulse to other parts of the protein is probed using Fourier transform of the atomic motions. From this analysis, a coupling profile can be determined which quantifies the degree of interaction between pump and probe residues. Various physical properties of the method such as reciprocity and speed of transmission are examined to establish the soundness of the method. The coupling strength can be used to address questions such as the degree of interaction between different residues at the level of dynamics, and identify propagation of influence of one part of the protein on another via “pathways” through the protein. The method is illustrated by analysis of coupling between different secondary structure elements in the allosteric protein calmodulin, and by analysis of pathways of residue–residue interaction in the PDZ domain protein previously elucidated by genomics and mutational studies. Proteins 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.