Protein Conformational Diversity Correlates with Evolutionary Rate

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Native state of proteins is better represented by an ensemble of conformers in equilibrium than by only one structure. The extension of structural differences between conformers characterizes the conformational diversity of the protein. In this study, we found a negative correlation between conformational diversity and protein evolutionary rate. Conformational diversity was expressed as the maximum root mean square deviation (RMSD) between the available conformers in Conformational Diversity of Native State database. Evolutionary rate estimations were calculated using 16 different species compared with human sharing at least 700 orthologous proteins with known conformational diversity extension. The negative correlation found is independent of the protein expression level and comparable in magnitude and sign with the correlation between gene expression level and evolutionary rate. Our findings suggest that the structural constraints underlying protein dynamism, essential for protein function, could modulate protein divergence.

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