Perturb-Scan-Pull: A Novel Method Facilitating Conformational Transitions in Proteins

Jalalypour F., ŞENSOY Ö., Atilgan C., Atilgan C.

Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, vol.16, no.6, pp.3842-3855, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 16 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1021/acs.jctc.9b01222
  • Journal Name: Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Chemical Abstracts Core, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.3842-3855
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Conformational transitions in proteins facilitate precise physiological functions. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms underlying these processes to modulate protein function. Yet, studying structural and dynamical properties of proteins is notoriously challenging due to the complexity of the underlying potential energy surfaces (PES). We have previously developed the perturbation-response scanning (PRS) method to identify key residues that participate in the communication network responsible for specific conformational transitions. PRS is based on a residue-by-residue scan of the protein to determine the subset of residues/forces which provide the closest conformational change leading to a target conformational state, inasmuch as linear response theory applies to these motions. Here, we develop a novel method to further evaluate if conformational transitions may be triggered on the PES. We aim to study functionally relevant conformational transitions in proteins by using results obtained from PRS and feeding them as inputs to steered molecular dynamics simulations. The success and the transferability of the method are evaluated on three protein systems having different complexities of motion on the PES: calmodulin, adenylate kinase, and bacterial ferric binding protein. We find that the method captures the target conformation, while providing key residues and the optimum paths with relatively low free energy profiles.