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Open Access Research article

Identifying allosteric fluctuation transitions between different protein conformational states as applied to Cyclin Dependent Kinase 2

Jenny Gu12* and Philip E Bourne12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

2 San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2007, 8:45  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-45

Published: 7 February 2007



The mechanisms underlying protein function and associated conformational change are dominated by a series of local entropy fluctuations affecting the global structure yet are mediated by only a few key residues. Transitional Dynamic Analysis (TDA) is a new method to detect these changes in local protein flexibility between different conformations arising from, for example, ligand binding. Additionally, Positional Impact Vertex for Entropy Transfer (PIVET) uses TDA to identify important residue contact changes that have a large impact on global fluctuation. We demonstrate the utility of these methods for Cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2), a system with crystal structures of this protein in multiple functionally relevant conformations and experimental data revealing the importance of local fluctuation changes for protein function.


TDA and PIVET successfully identified select residues that are responsible for conformation specific regional fluctuation in the activation cycle of Cyclin Dependent Kinase 2 (CDK2). The detected local changes in protein flexibility have been experimentally confirmed to be essential for the regulation and function of the kinase. The methodologies also highlighted possible errors in previous molecular dynamic simulations that need to be resolved in order to understand this key player in cell cycle regulation. Finally, the use of entropy compensation as a possible allosteric mechanism for protein function is reported for CDK2.


The methodologies embodied in TDA and PIVET provide a quick approach to identify local fluctuation change important for protein function and residue contacts that contributes to these changes. Further, these approaches can be used to check for possible errors in protein dynamic simulations and have the potential to facilitate a better understanding of the contribution of entropy to protein allostery and function.