Functional Roles of Slow Enzyme Conformational Changes in Network Dynamics


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Extensive studies from different fields reveal that many macromolecules, especially enzymes, show slow transitions among different conformations. This phenomenon is named such things as dynamic disorder, heterogeneity, hysteretic or mnemonic enzymes across these different fields, and has been directly demonstrated by single molecule enzymology and NMR studies recently. We analyzed enzyme slow conformational changes in the context of regulatory networks. A single enzymatic reaction with slow conformational changes can filter upstream network noises, and can either resonantly respond to the system stimulus at certain frequencies or respond adaptively for sustained input signals of the network fluctuations. It thus can serve as a basic functional motif with properties that are normally for larger intermolecular networks in the field of systems biology. We further analyzed examples including enzymes functioning against pH fluctuations, metabolic state change of Artemia embryos, and kinetic insulation of fluctuations in metabolic networks. The study also suggests that hysteretic enzymes may be building blocks of synthetic networks with various properties such as narrow-banded filtering. The work fills the missing gap between studies on enzyme biophysics and network level dynamics, and reveals that the coupling between the two is functionally important; it also suggests that the conformational dynamics of some enzymes may be evolutionally selected.



leaf nitrate reductase, single-molecule, positive feedback, escherichia-coli, protein dynamics, intracellular ph, noise, catalysis, behavior, binding


Wu, Zhanghan; Xing, Jianhua, "Functional Roles of Slow Enzyme Conformational Changes in Network Dynamics," Biophysical Journal 103(5), 1052-1059 (2012); doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.08.008