Physical chemistry chemical physics : PCCP | 19 Oct 2017
R Sharma, D De Sancho and V Muñoz
Proteins that fold upon binding to their partners exhibit complex binding behavior such as induced-fit. But the connections between the folding mechanism and the binding mode remain unknown. Here we focus on the high affinity complex between the physiologically and marginally unstable, fast folder PSBD and the E1 subunit of pyruvate dehydrogenase. Using coarse-grained simulations we investigate the binding to E1 of a partially disordered PSBD under two folding scenarios: two-state and downhill. Our simulations show that induced-fit binding requires that PSBD folds-unfolds in the downhill folding regime. In contrast, a two-state folding PSBD must fold completely before it binds. The reason is that effective coupling between folding and binding involves partially folded conformations, which are only sufficiently populated under the downhill folding regime. Our results establish a direct mechanistic link between complex binding and downhill folding, supporting the idea that PSBD operates functionally as a conformational rheostat.
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