Tracing Conformational Changes in Proteins

N. Haspel, M. Moll, M. L. Baker, W. Chiu, and L. E. Kavraki, “Tracing Conformational Changes in Proteins,” in IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedicine Workshops (BIBMW), Washington, DC, 2009.


Many proteins undergo extensive conformational changes as part of their functionality. Tracing these changes is important for understanding the way these proteins function. Traditional biophysics-based conformational search methods re- quire a large number of calculations and are hard to apply to large-scale conformational motions. In this work we investigate the application of a robotics-inspired method, using backbone and limited side chain representation and a coarse grained energy function to trace large-scale conformational motions. We tested the algorithm on three well known medium to large proteins and we show that even with relatively little information we are able to trace low-energy conformational pathways efficiently. The conformational pathways produced by our methods can be further filtered and refined to produce more useful information on the way proteins function under physiological conditions.


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