Evolvability of yeast protein-protein interaction interfaces

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The functional importance of protein-protein interactions indicates that there should be strong evolutionary constraint on their interaction interfaces. However, binding interfaces are frequently affected by amino acid replacements. Change due to coevolution within interfaces can contribute to variability but is not ubiquitous. An alternative explanation for the ability of surfaces to accept replacements may be that many residues can be changed without affecting the interaction. Candidates for these types of residues are those that make interchain interaction only through the protein main chain, β-carbon, or associated hydrogen atoms. Since almost all residues have these atoms, we hypothesize that this subset of interface residues may be more easily substituted than those that make interactions through other atoms. We term such interactions "residue type independent." Investigating this hypothesis, we find that nearly a quarter of residues in protein interaction interfaces make exclusively interchain residue-type-independent contacts. These residues are less structurally constrained and less conserved than residues making residue-type-specific interactions. We propose that residue-type- independent interactions allow substitutions in binding interfaces while the specificity of binding is maintained. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-396
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2012


  • evolution
  • protein structure
  • protein-protein interactions
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae


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