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Long-Range Intra-Protein Communication Can Be Transmitted by Correlated Side-Chain Fluctuations Alone

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Allosteric regulation is a key component of cellular communication, but the way in which information is passed from one site to another within a folded protein is not often clear. While backbone motions have long been considered essential for long-range information conveyance, side-chain motions have rarely been considered. In this work, we demonstrate their potential utility using Monte Carlo sampling of side-chain torsional angles on a fixed backbone to quantify correlations amongst side-chain inter-rotameric motions. Results indicate that long-range correlations of side-chain fluctuations can arise independently from several different types of interactions: steric repulsions, implicit solvent interactions, or hydrogen bonding and salt-bridge interactions. These robust correlations persist across the entire protein (up to 60 Å in the case of calmodulin) and can propagate long-range changes in side-chain variability in response to single residue perturbations.

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