Edge weights in a protein elastic network reorganize collective motions and render long-range sensitivity responses

Chieh Cheng Yu, Nixon Raj, Jhih Wei Chu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of inter-residue interactions on protein collective motions are analyzed by comparing two elastic network models (ENM) - structural contact ENM (SC-ENM) and molecular dynamics (MD)-ENM - with the edge weights computed from an all-atom MD trajectory by structure-mechanics statistical learning. A theoretical framework is devised to decompose the eigenvalues of ENM Hessian into contributions from individual springs and to compute the sensitivities of positional fluctuations and covariances to spring constant variation. Our linear perturbation approach quantifies the response mechanisms as softness modulation and orientation shift. All contacts of Cα positions in SC-ENM have an identical spring constant by fitting the profile of root-of-mean-squared-fluctuation calculated from an all-atom MD simulation, and the same trajectory data are also used to compute the specific spring constant of each contact as an MD-ENM edge weight. We illustrate that the soft-mode reorganization can be understood in terms of gaining weights along the structural contacts of low elastic strengths and loosing magnitude along those of high rigidities. With the diverse mechanical strengths encoded in protein dynamics, MD-ENM is found to have more pronounced long-range couplings and sensitivity responses with orientation shift identified as a key player in driving the specific residues to have high sensitivities. Furthermore, the responses of perturbing the springs of different residues are found to have asymmetry in the action-reaction relationship. In understanding the mutation effects on protein functional properties, such as long-range communications, our results point in the directions of collective motions as a major effector.

Original languageEnglish
Article number245105
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number24
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2022


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