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Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Tom McLeish

McLeish, Thomas C. B., Rodgers, T. L. & Wilson, Mark R. (2013). Allostery without conformation change: modelling protein dynamics at multiple scales. Physical Biology 10(5): 056004.

Author(s) from Durham


The original ideas of Cooper and Dryden, that allosteric signalling can be induced between distant binding sites on proteins without any change in mean structural conformation, has proved to be a remarkably prescient insight into the rich structure of protein dynamics. It represents an alternative to the celebrated Monod–Wyman–Changeux mechanism and proposes that modulation of the amplitude of thermal fluctuations around a mean structure, rather than shifts in the structure itself, give rise to allostery in ligand binding. In a complementary approach to experiments on real proteins, here we take a theoretical route to identify the necessary structural components of this mechanism. By reviewing and extending an approach that moves from very coarse-grained to more detailed models, we show that, a fundamental requirement for a body supporting fluctuation-induced allostery is a strongly inhomogeneous elastic modulus. This requirement is reflected in many real proteins, where a good approximation of the elastic structure maps strongly coherent domains onto rigid blocks connected by more flexible interface regions.